Want to download current or previous versions of Windows 10 without using the Media Creation Tool? Here's how.
For most downloads of Windows 10, the Media Creation Tool is fine. If you want a clean install, have multiple computers to upgrade, want a previous version of Windows because you're having issues or to be able to resume an interrupted download of Windows 10, you can download a Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO) directly. Once you've downloaded the ISO, you can create an installation DVD or bootable USB flash drive.
If you want to download a Windows 10 disc image (ISO) using a Windows device, the only option Microsoft offers on the Windows 10 download page is to use the Media Creation Tool. You can use it to download an ISO of the most recent version of Windows, but not previous versions.
Downloading an ISO (disc image) with the Media Creation Tool is simple. Download, install, and run the Media Creation Tool. Check the button next to "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC" instead of "Upgrade this PC now". Next, select the language, architecture and edition. The next page is the "Choose which media to use", select ISO file instead of USB flash drive, then download the ISO to your device.
There are two ways to download a Windows 10 ISO without the Media Creation Tool. You can alter the user agent in your browser so the Windows 10 download site thinks you're using a different operating system (not too difficult), or download and run the "Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool" from Heidoc (easiest).
Download the HeiDoc Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool
HeiDoc Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool
If you don't want to change the user agent in your browser, this tool downloads Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 disk images (ISO) straight from Microsoft's servers, as well as Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, Office 2019 and Microsoft Expression. If you're on a Mac, you can download Office 2011, 2016 and 2019.
There are also downloads for Windows 10 Insider and Developer builds. If you have a Dell laptop you can download OEM images for most models.
After downloading and running the tool, the tool window opens and is immediately covered by a pop up window that says "A Message from our Sponsors" that runs various video and static ads. You can't close the window but you can minimize it. Once that's out of the way the tool shows the download options. Select and confirm the program and version you want to download, language and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) and save the file to your device.
Change the User Agent in your browser
In Chrome, Chromium based Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi and Brave browsers the process to change the user agent is the same (see below for Opera).
Browse to the Microsoft Windows 10 download page.
Hit the Ctrl + F12 keys to bring up the developer tools.
Click the menu button (three little dots).
Choose "More Tools".
Select "Network Conditions"
Uncheck the "Select Automatically" box next to User Agent.
From the dropdown menu, select an option that doesn't use Windows. Android, Blackberry, and Linux worked fine for me.
Reload the page (you might have to reload it a few times or use Ctrl + F5 depending on what browser you're using).
The title of the reloaded page should say "Download Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO file)".
Select your version, either the previous or current Windows 10 build and your language. Click either 32-bit or 64-bit to start the download to your device (links on this page are valid for 24 hours from the time of creation).
Opera: to bring up the developer tools in Opera, hit Ctrl + Shift + I or click the "O" menu/Developer/Developer tools.
Ctrl + Shift + I will open the developer tools in other Chromium based browsers as well. Ctrl + F12 won't open and close the developer tools in Opera.
The changes in the User Agent will reset to the default (Windows) when Chromium based browsers are closed and re-opened.
Firefox and Waterfox have a different procedure to change the User Agent.
There are two ways to change the User Agent in Firefox and Waterfox, use an add-on or edit the about:config settings.
Either of these two add-ons work well and are easy to use; download and install them and an icon will appear in the address bar.
User-Agent Switcher and Manager
To use these add-ons after installation, click on the address bar icon and choose an option that isn't Windows based.
Browse to the Microsoft Windows 10 download page.
The title of the page should say "Download Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO file)".
Select your version, either the current or previous version of Windows 10, then select your language. Choose either the 32-bit or 64-bit version to start the download.
To reset the User Agent to the Windows default, click on the icon and choose reset/apply or default.
If you're comfortable editing the about:config settings there are good directions here, including how to reset to the default when you're done. You'll need User Agent strings for systems other than Windows, I like the ones here: List of User Agents. After you choose a string, copy and paste it into the box in the about:config settings using the directions in the article and reload the Microsoft Windows 10 download page.
It would be much easier if Microsoft supplied easily accessed links to Windows and Office versions (past and present) but since they don't, this is how you can download them for yourself.
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