Reports of Microsoft withdrawing support for Windows XP haven’t been just greatly exaggerated. If you’re still on the now 13 year old OS, it’s time to make a switch before it becomes insecure. If you’re ready to move to a newer version, we’ll help you make it easier create your own USB thumb drive with Windows on it. Here are some scenarios when you might do that:

  • When Netbooks and Ultrabooks don’t have a DVD drive: Most Netbooks are sold without any form of DVD or Blu-ray drive. So what if your pre-installed Windows 7 or 8 installation is totally messed up? What if your Ultrabook came with Windows 7 and you want to upgrade to 8?
  • When some of you regularly install operating systems on more than one machine. Installing from a USB key is much faster than installing from an old-school DVD drive.
  • When a USB drive is much more practical on a trip than carrying a DVD around with you – just in case anything goes wrong!

Unfortunately simply copying over all the files from the Windows 7/8 DVD to a USB thumb drive is not going to work. That’s why you can use the “Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool” from Microsoft to make it easier.

What do you need?
There are several requirements that you need to check before using the tool to make a bootable Windows 7 Setup USB drive.

1. You need Microsoft .NET Framework, which you can get from here. This is for Windows XP and Windows Vista users only. Windows 7 users already have the latest version of .NET Framework installed.

2. You need Windows 7 or 8 ISO file that you bought and downloaded through official channels, for example the Microsoft Store. The Windows 7/8 Setup DVD cannot be copied directly to the USB thumb drives. However, you can convert your Windows 7 DVD into the ISO format. See the “Make an ISO file out of your Windows 7/8 DVD” below.

3. A machine that supports booting up from USB. This is a feature that all recent notebooks and desktop PCs have.

4. A USB key with at least 4 GByte of free space.  Make sure this USB drive is empty and all files are moved to a safe location.

Make an ISO file out of your Windows 7/8 DVD
Most users got Windows 7 the regular way, either by buying it on retail stores, online or by getting it with a new PC. Since the above mentioned tool is only able to create a bootable Windows 7 Setup USB drive from an ISO file, you have to convert your DVD. This is how it’s done:

1. Download and install MagicISO Maker from http://www.magiciso.com/download.htm. Insert the Windows 7/8 DVD into your drive. Open up “Computer”, right-click on your drive, select “MagicISO” and “Make Image File from X:” – where X stands for the letter of your DVD drive.

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2. Click on the little folder icon next to “Output file” and select the folder where you want to place the ISO file, for example “Desktop”. Then type a name and click “Save”. Next, select “Standard ISO image file (.ISO)” under the “Output format”  settings.

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3. Click “OK” and wait for the Windows 7/8 DVD to be converted into the ISO format.

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Now you have an exact copy of the Windows 7/8 DVD saved on your hard disk and it’s time to transfer the copy to a USB flash drive.

Get the Windows 8.1 ISO
There’s no official download site for the Windows 8.1 ISO, but you can use a little trick to download the ISO file and make a bootable USB drive out of that: To do that, download the “Windows 8.1 Setup Tool” (click on “Install Windows 8.1”). Next, type in your product key and use the tool to download the ISO – simple as that!

Create the USB
Now the Windows 7 USB DVD Tool comes into play – never mind the name, it works with Windows 8 as well. Here’s how to create a bootable Windows 7/8 Install USB flash drive:

1. Click here to download the Windows 7USB/DVD Download tool and install it.

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2. The application short should appear on your desktop. Make sure that the USB flash drive is plugged in and then double-click on the shortcut to launch the program. Click on “Browse” and select the ISO file you have either purchased online or created using the guide above. Click “Next”.

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3. In the next screen, click on “USB device” and select the USB drive, for example:

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4. Click on “Begin copying” so start the process. This might take a couple of minutes now, so go ahead and get some tea. Once the setup file are all on the USB drive, simply click on “X”.

 Run the Windows 7/8 Setup!
From now it’s pretty easy: Plug-In and the USB drive and set up your PC, notebook or netbook that it boots directly from the USB port. For that, you need to open up the boot menu. On most PCs it’s accessed by pressing one of the following keys: ESC, F2, F8, F12, DEL, ALT or STRG. If that doesn’t work, watch out for any hints during boot up such as “Hit the XX key to enter the boot menu”.

Once you’re done installing Windows 7 and Windows 8 from scratch you will feel the difference: without all the bloatware and junk, it’ll feel fast and fluid from day one. So better keep it that way with our suggested performance tweaks