Posey's Tips & Tricks

Getting Windows 10 Without the Wait

Here's how to skip the long lines for the free upgrade.

More Windows 10 Content:

We have finally reached the date when the much anticipated Windows 10 has been released. If you are like a lot of people however, you might not actually be given the option of upgrading to Windows 10 for quite some time.

As you probably know, Microsoft released an app called Get Windows 10. That app is installed as an automatic update on computers that are running Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update. Once this app is installed, you have to go into the app and reserve your copy of Windows 10. Upon doing so, the app will tell you that you will be notified when your copy of Windows 10 is ready to install.

So why isn't Windows 10 available right now? Well, from what I have been told, Microsoft's update servers have limited capacity. These update servers simply do not have the ability to upgrade all of the world's PCs to Windows 10 at the same time. That being the case, Microsoft is going to be allowing upgrades to Windows 10 to happen in waves. Some people will get Windows 10 today. Other people will have to wait for an unknown amount of time.

So what do you do if you want Windows 10 now? Well, I firmly believe that patience is a virtue. Even so, patience doesn't always work in the real world. For example, I am currently working on an article about how Windows 10 works on the Surface Pro 3 and because of a publishing deadline I simply don't have the option of waiting for Microsoft to tell me that it is my turn to upgrade. So what did I do? I took matters into my own hands.

Before I show you how to force a Windows 10 update, there are a couple of things that I need to get out of the way. First, to the best of my knowledge the technique that I am about to show you is not officially supported. Second, this technique doesn't always work on the first try. I have used this technique on a few different PCs. In each case the technique eventually worked, but it took a couple of tries on one of my PCs.

It is relatively easy to force a Windows 10 upgrade. First, make sure that the Get Windows 10 app has been installed and that you have reserved your copy of Windows 10. There is no getting around that step. If you are having trouble getting the Get Windows 10 app to work properly then be sure to check out my post How To Force the Get Windows 10 App To Run, where I show you how to fix the problem.

Now, assuming that your copy of Windows has been reserved, open File Explorer and navigate to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder.  You must now delete all of the files out of this folder.

Now, you must run Windows Update. In my experience however, this isn't quite as simple as it sounds. The first time that I tried this, Windows told me that I had one important update. When I checked the list of updates it indicated that the available update was a Windows hardware update. Installation of the update failed because I had emptied the Download folder.

Needless to say, clearing out the Download folder and then running Windows Update does not give you Windows 10. The trick is to open Windows Update, but do not tell Windows to check for updates. Instead, launch a Command Prompt window with administrative permissions. When this window opens, go to C:\Windows\System32 and enter the following command:

Wuauclt.exe /updatenow

Now, switch back to the Windows Update window and click on the Check for Updates link. After a few minutes, you should see Windows Update indicate that Windows 10 is being downloaded. Once this process completes, you should be able to move forward with a Windows 10 upgrade.


About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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