Microsoft Windows operating system is a success amongst great portion of consumers not by coincidence, but due to its great compatibility of hardware and software. Also, there are great tools and toolchains for people working in software development, including the latest additions of Linux support via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) where you get the best of both worlds, Windows and Linux, without a need for a full virtualization layer or dual boot.
It is very common to buy a PC and have a version of Windows already pre-installed. Many times a reset to factory state is enough to never need to manual install the OS manually, but in case this is eventually needed, due to a storage drive replacement or otherwise, this article may help you.
Make sure you have the proper license and right to install not only your operating system, but any software product.
If you got the consumer versions of Windows pre-installed and want to upgrade for example to the Pro version, there are many options, including buying the upgrade via Microsoft Store.
If you have already purchased the appropriate license or had equipment already licensed and just need to get the installation media, you can check it out those links provided by Microsoft:
Windows 10 – Download Windows 10 (microsoft.com)
Windows 11 – Download Windows 11 (microsoft.com)
In the page for Windows 11, the first option is to install the latest OS in the current device. The second one is for download a media creator tool that is very intuitive, so I will explain how to use the 3rd option to download the .iso (disc image), create a USB drive configured for booting in UEFI mode and run through the basic installation.
The download takes 3 steps:
The .iso could be used to write a blank DVD media, but since disc readers are no longer popular these days, I will take the route of creating a USB drive with proper formating to allow for booting.
Installing on virtual machine using Hyper-V
If installing on Hyper-V, there’s no need to create the USB drive, it is possible to boot from the .iso directly, but for Windows 11, since there are requirements in terms of security capabilities needed, we will use Generation 2 for the virtual machine configuration.
If you need to check how to install Hyper-V in your system, you can take a look at my post Windows 11, Windows Subsystem for Linux and Hyper-V
With Hyper-V installed, open the Hyper-V Manager.
Then click in New – Virtual Machine.
Provide a name for your virtual machine and click Next.
Select Generation 2 and click Next.
Specify the amout of memory (I use 8GB-16GB and don’t set the Dynamic Memory option). Click Next.
Select the network type and click Next.
To see how to create a new networking device see Windows 11, Windows Subsystem for Linux and Hyper-V – Fernando Silva
At minimum, select the disk size, in my example 160GB, then click Next.
Select the .iso file downloaded from Microsoft website and click Next.
Click in Finish.
Now we need to enable TPM device for the Windows 11 installation to be able to complete. In the main page, select the virtual machine and click in Settings.
Navigate to the security tab and select Enable Trusted Platform Module, then clock OK.
You are now ready to start the installation. In the main page, double click in the virtual machine name.
The Virtual Machine Connection window is loaded. Click in Start and follow the same steps as installation for physical devices, skipping the USB drive creation steps.
Installing on physical devices (a.k.a. bare metal)
There are many popular options of tools to create installation media, such as Rufus and Balena Etcher, but this task can be accomplished with tools available in the operating system or installed via built-in package manager.
I have created the instructions here:
Creating Windows 11 installation USB drive on Windows
After the media is created we can use to boot in the target device. If the following screen is displayed, hit any key in your keyboard to load the installer.
The Windows Setup program will load, as shown below. Later in the installation process, it will be required to select the disk and partition layout to install the OS. Despite there’s an option to delete previously created partitions and reconfigured using the UI, I will show how I like to wipe the disk via command line. Still in the Windows Setup initial screen, press together keys Shift + F10.
The command prompt will be loaded with administrative permissions, then use the following command and hit enter:
If you want to learn more about the diskpart tool, you can use this article diskpart | Microsoft Learn
Diskpart accepts short versions of the commands. For listing the available disks we can use:
Identity the disk you want to install to, in my case is disk 0.
Select the disk by typing the following command, replacing with the desired disk number and hit Enter:
sel dis 0
Note: be careful with the following command. Make sure you have selected the proper disk, otherwise, even the USB drive with the installation media may be wiped.
Then, type clean and hit Enter. Your disk is now wiped. You can close the window and continue with the installation.
Back to the main window, select language and time/currency format. In my case, both are English (United States). For Keyboard, the default comes as US, which should be ok for a lot of users. Since I like to have the symbols used for other languages, working properly, like in case of Brazilian Portuguese, I use United States-International. Then click Next.
Then click in Install now.
If you have purchased your Windows via physical delivery, you should have the product key available to provide during installation. You can type in the box on next window and click Next.
If you are reinstalling the same version already activated in your device previously, likely you have a digital bond between the device and the license, so you should be able to select I don’t have a product key and activate via Windows later. In my case, I have bought my upgrade through the Microsoft Store and previously activated in my device, so I will use this option.
Next, it is time to select the version you want to install. A lot of times the Windows installation media has the profile for different versions, so you will need to pick the appropriate one while performing a clean install. In my case, the purchased version is Windows 11 Pro, so I will pick this option.
The next window is a very important one, the License Terms. Make sure you read and evaluate before you proceed. If you do agree with the terms, select I accept the Microsoft Software License Terms option and click Next.
Next window is the installation type. For this clean install we select Custom.
Next it is the partitioning window. Since we already wiped the disk, in case we don’t want to leave space unnallocated, we can simply select the drive and click Next.
Note: If you want to learn more about disk partitioning for Windows installation, you can find details in this article from Microsoft UEFI/GPT-based hard drive partitions | Microsoft Learn
At this point the installation will start and in few moments, the device will restart automatically.
It will, then, show the initial configuration settings, starting with confirmation on country/region. Select the appropriate one and click Yes.
Next, confirm the keyboard layout and click Yes.
You can add more keyboard layouts, but I will Skip it.
If the device is already connected, it will look for updates. In my case, since the connection is not wireless, it was previously established.
Next, we will provide the device name and click Next. Your device may restart before the next step.
Now we will configure the credentials. It is mostly intuitive, but there’s one option that is available in the Windows 11 Pro (and other business editions) that is not as clear, it is kinda burried in the menus, which is to use offline account.
I usually connect my online account so I can sync e-mails, files, etc, but for the initial setup, I like to do it offline, including due to the fact that depending on your username/email, the name of the folder created automatically for the user may not be what you expect…
For this, we first select Setup for work or school and then click Next.
Now comes the step I use in my configuration. Instead of logging in with my online credentials right away, I select Sign-in options.
Next, I select Domain join instead. Even using my home network which I don’t have a general Domain (or Active Directory) on it, it is possible to use this option to setup an offline account, locally like it was really straightforward to do in previous versions of Windows.
Now it is possible to provide the local username and click Next.
Then, the password and Next. And password confirmation, same thing.
You will be prompted to select 3 security questions (pre-defined) and provide answers to those. This is used to recover your local password in case you forget. Repeat the same for all 3, question, answer and Next.
In the privacy settings window, select your preferences and click Accept.
You may notice a message of updates being processed again at this point. Wait your PC to be configure fully and you will be done. Enjoy your fresh installed Windows 11 environment.