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article imageInstalling and activating Windows 10 will soon be much simpler

By James Walker     Oct 14, 2015 in Technology
Microsoft released a new preview build of Windows 10 earlier this week that includes a simplified way of installing the OS onto Windows 7 and 8 devices eligible for a free upgrade. The company has received large amounts of user feedback on the process.
Although many users will have happily upgraded to Windows 10 without thinking too much of it, there are others who prefer to clean install new operating systems as if the computer has just been bought. Microsoft has always allowed you to do this with the free upgrade offer but not until the upgrade procedure has been performed at least once on the device.
This means many people have upgraded to Windows 10 and then immediately clean installed it afterwards from a DVD or USB stick, going through the whole installation process twice. This procedure has been required due to the way Microsoft stores activation data: your license is linked to a unique hardware ID generated by the desktop upgrade assistant program. Clean installs won't activate until the upgrade assistant has been run because Windows has to consult with Microsoft servers to check that its hardware ID has been authenticated.
As the Windows 10 setup wizard does not accept Windows 7 or 8 product keys, the only way to perform a clean install on an existing device is to jump through the hoops and effectively install the upgrade twice. Microsoft is now changing that, starting with Windows 10 build 10565. It is likely to be publicly released in the next major feature update, expected to arrive next month.
Cortana handwriting recognition in Windows 10 Build 10565
Cortana handwriting recognition in Windows 10 Build 10565
It is now possible to clean install straight away without upgrading first. The Windows setup wizard accepts valid Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 product keys and is capable of verifying them itself, removing the step of using the upgrade assistant to register a device on Microsoft's servers.
ZDNet has already managed to test out the feature and has confirmed it is working. Using a test system running an activated copy of Windows 8.1, the site first used a Windows 10 Build 10240 DVD to attempt an upgrade. As expected, it did not accept the 8.1 product key. Trying again with Build 10565 successfully verified the key and activated the install, all without having to do an upgrade from the desktop first.
This feature is likely to please many enthusiasts who like to keep their devices clean. It is now much simpler to get a new Windows 8.1 device running Windows 10 as there is no longer any need to boot the system before running the setup program.
Tab preview in Microsoft Edge
Tab preview in Microsoft Edge
Build 10565 also introduces several new features that will be of interest to everybody. The new universal Skype messaging and calling apps have finally made an appearance and Microsoft Edge now supports its much-anticipated "Tab Preview" mode. Hovering the mouse over open tabs displays a small preview of the contents, making it easier to keep track of each one when several are open.
Additionally, Edge can now sync favourites and reading list items between devices, one of the most conspicuously absent aspects of the browser since its launch. There are also new icons, title bars, context menus and colour schemes as Microsoft continues to refine and modernise the interface. Windows 10 is expected to receive a major public release update next month that will include all the new features of the preview builds released since its launch in July.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, Preview, Activation
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