How to install Windows 10 from a USB drive

Here's how to create a bootable Windows installation USB drive starting with a Windows .iso file or a Windows Setup DVD.
For new Windows 10 installations, we've got a tool that does this for you. See Download Windows 10.
What you need
  • Windows 10 install .iso or DVD
  • USB flash drive with at least 5GB free space. This drive will be formatted, so make sure it doesn't have any important files on it.
  • Technician PC - Windows PC that you'll use to format the USB flash drive
  • Destination PC - A PC that you'll install Windows on

Step 1 - Format the drive and set the primary partition as active

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to your technician PC.
  2. Open Disk Management: Right-click on Start and choose Disk Management.
  3. Format the partition: Right-click the USB drive partition and choose Format. Select the FAT32 file system to be able to boot either BIOS-based or UEFI-based PCs.
  4. Set the partition as active: Right-click the USB drive partition and click Mark Partition as Active.
    If Mark Partition as Active isn't available, you can instead use diskpart to select the partition and mark it active.

Step 2 - Copy Windows Setup to the USB flash drive

  1. Use File Explorer to copy and paste the entire contents of the Windows product DVD or ISO to the USB flash drive.
  2. Optional: add an unattend file to automate the installation process. For more information, see Automate Windows Setup.

Step 3 - Install Windows to the new PC

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to a new PC.
  2. Turn on the PC and press the key that opens the boot-device selection menu for the computer, such as the Esc/F10/F12 keys. Select the option that boots the PC from the USB flash drive.
    Windows Setup starts. Follow the instructions to install Windows.

    3. Remove the USB flash drive.

Troubleshooting: file copy fails

This can happen when the Windows image file is over the FAT32 file size limit of 4GB. When this happens:
  1. Copy everything except the Windows image file (sources\install.wim) to the USB drive (either drag and drop, or use this command, where D: is the mounted ISO and E: is the USB flash drive.)
    robocopy D: E: /s /max:3800000000
  2. Split the Windows image file into smaller files, and put the smaller files onto the USB drive:
    Dism /Split-Image /ImageFile:D:\sources\install.wim /SWMFile:E:\sources\install.swm /FileSize:3800
    Note, Windows Setup automatically installs from this file, so long as you name it install.swm.



Fix: The USB Disk Is Write Protected in Windows 10/8/7

Receive error "the disk is write protected" when trying to format a removable disk (such as USB flash drive, SD card, CD, or pen drive)? The disk is write protected error in Windows 10/8/7 that stops operation of formatting, writing data, i.e. copy & paste files to the generic USB stick. It's imperative to remove write protection on the drive. Learn the how-to guide step by step to fix the "disk is write protected, remove the write-protection or use another disk, removable disk" now.
the disk is write protected


We use removable storage devices a lot on a Windows computer, and some of you may encounter the issue of the disk malfunction, which is mostly about "the disk is write protected". When Windows starts to write protect your disk, for example, a SanDisk 4GB USB flash drive, you can no longer use it anymore until you remove the write protection. The fixes are as follows.

Method 1: Diskpart command

Step 1: Open administrative Command Prompt.
Step 2: Type these commands one by one and press Enter key after each:
  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk # (# is the number of USB drive with which you're getting the write-protected error and is plugged in, see screenshot below)
  • attributes disk clear readonly
use diskpart to remove write-protection usb
Step 3: You may now close Command Prompt and re-plug the USB drive and check if the issue is resolved, by dragging a file to the drive or trying to format in Windows Disk Management or EaseUS Partition Master coming in the later part.

Method 2: Regedit.exe

Step 1: Press Windows Key + R keys simultaneously, type "regedit" in Run dialog box and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor.
use regedit.exe to remove write protection usb
Step 2: In the left pane, navigate here: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
Step 3: In the left pane of this location, right click Control key and select New -> Key. Name the new sub-key so created as StorageDevicePolicies. Now come to the right pane of this sub-key i.e. StorageDevicePolicies, right click and select New -> DWORD Value. Name the newly created DWORD as WriteProtect. In some cases, you might find that this DWORD under the sub-key already exists and the DWORD has a Value set to 1. Double-click on the DWORD to modify its Value data.
set value data to remove write protection usb
Step 4: In the above-shown box, change the Value data to 0 from 1. Click OK. Close the Registry Editor and check if the issue is resolved by dragging a file to the drive or trying to format in Windows Disk Management or EaseUS Partition Master coming in the later part.
You can try those methods mentioned above and they may help you remove the Write Protected  error. Besides, if you have the need to  format a hard drive, memory card, sd card or external drive, we recommend you a reliable partition software -  EaseUS Partition  Master, which is a powerful yet user-friendly alternative for Windows 10/8/7 disk management program.



6 Free Blu-ray Disc Burning Software Apps

Looking for a way to burn Blu-ray discs? After Blu-ray won the battle with HD DVD, more and more people are starting to buy computers with Blu-ray burners built-in or buying external burners. Either way, as Blu-ray becomes more common like CDs and DVDs, the time is going to come when you are going to burn your first Blu-ray disc!
Note: You can also check out my other posts on how to burn CDs and DVDs on Windowsand how to burn a CD or DVD on a Mac.
You can also purchase commercial software to burn Blu-ray discs or you can use free open source Blu-ray burning software. In this article, I’ve written up a list of free apps you can download to burn Blu-ray discs. There are a lot of freeware apps out there, but only a couple are high quality and time tested.


BurnAware is a very simple and easy to use CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc-burning app. You can use it to create data backups, audio CDs and to create or burn ISO image files. The free version also lets you create bootable discs, which is really handy. Another really handy feature of the free version is the ability to burn across multiple CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs.


CDBurnerXP is another good freeware app to burn CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Like BurnAware, you can create and burn ISO images and you can create bootable discs. The only other unique feature it has is the ability to convert NRG/BIN image files to ISO format.


ImgBurn has been one of my favorite CD/DVD burning apps for a long time and now it also supports Blu-ray discs, which makes it even better! It has a bunch of other features that make it popular, including supporting the latest drives, the ability to batch create images, support for a wide range of image file formats, and lots more. The other unique feature of ImgBurn is that it can be used to create playable DVD and Blu-ray discs from VIDEO_TS and BDAV/BDMV folders, respectively.


StarBurn is a nice full-featured CD/DVD/Blu-ray burning app. It has a nice GUI interface that splits your burning options into audio, video, and data. You can burn images and build ISO images also. Unique features include the ability to erase a disc and to compress audio.

Tiny Burner

tiny burner
Tiny Burner is an excellent freeware app that works with CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The installer also comes with a 32-bit and 64-bit version and will install the appropriate version automatically. Just load your disc into the drive, drag and drop the files you want and click the Burn icon to burn the disc.

True Burner

true burner
True Burner can burn standard, multi-session and bootable CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. It’s got a very simple user interface and not a whole lot of settings. It doesn’t have a lot of advanced features like ImgBurn, but it gets the job done and it works well.
If you know of any other free software that can burn Blu-ray discs, feel free to post them in the comments! Enjoy!



The New and Improved Windows 10 Notepad: Useful Tips and Features

Notepad finally got some much-needed attention in Windows 10 1809. It’s been around since the first version of Windows and has always been a very basic text editor.
Well, Notepad is still a basic editor, and the interface is pretty much the same. But Microsoft added new features, made performance improvements, and fixed some bugs in Windows 10 1809 to give it a long overdue boost.
Prior to Windows 10 1809, if you wanted to view bigger text in Notepad, you had to change the font size of the text.
Now, you can zoom in and out on the text without changing the font size.
Go to View > Zoom and select Zoom In or Zoom Out.

Zoom menu in Notepad

You can also use the Ctrl + + (plus sign) and Ctrl + – (minus sign) keyboard shortcuts to zoom in and out, respectively. To go back to the default 100% zoom level, press Ctrl + 0 (zero).
You can also use a combination of the keyboard and the mouse to quickly zoom in and out. Press and hold the Ctrl key and scroll up with the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in or scroll down to zoom out.

Zoom in and out on text in Notepad

Wrap Around, Find and Replace, and Search AutoFill

Previously, when you started searching in the middle of a text file in Notepad, the search would go to the end of the file or the beginning of the file (depending on the selected direction), but not search the whole file.
In the new improved Notepad, Microsoft added an option to wrap the search around so you can search the whole text file from wherever the cursor is in the file.
When you press Ctrl + F and enter a word or phrase in the Find what box, check the Wrap around box to search the whole file.
Notepad also remembers the options you select now, so when you check the Wrap around box, it will stay checked the next time you use the Find dialog box to search.
Microsoft also added another handy feature—Search Autofill.
Say you want to find other occurrences of specific text in your file. Select the text you want to find and press Ctrl + F. Notepad automatically inserts the selected text into the Find what box on the Find dialog box, allowing you to quickly start your search.

Wrap around search in Notepad

Display the Status Bar with Word Wrap Enabled

Previously, when you enabled Word Wrap on the Format menu in Notepad, the status bar would disappear if you had it enabled. You couldn’t display both at the same time. When Word Wrap was enabled, the Status Bar option on the Viewmenu was grayed out and unavailable.
Now you can enable Word Wrap and display the Status Bar at the same time. And you can disable both if you want.
Word wrap enabled with Status Bar showing in Notepad

Support for Text Files from Linux and Mac

Before Windows 10 1809, Notepad only supported Windows Carriage Return (CR) and Line Feed (LF) (CRLF) line endings for text files. When you opened text files created on Unix, Linux, or Mac, the line endings wouldn’t display correctly. The file would be a mess and line endings occurred in unexpected places. You had to open the file in WordPad, save it there, and then reopen the file in Notepad.
Notepad still uses Windows Carriage Return (CR) and Line Feed (LF) (CRLF) line endings by default. But Microsoft finally added support in Notepad in Windows 10 1809 for line endings in Unix and Linux (LF) and Mac (CR). So text files created on Unix, Linux, or Mac will now display correctly when opened in Notepad.
When you edit and save text files created on Unix, Linux, or Mac, Notepad preserves the type of line breaks from the operating system it was created in.
Text file from Linux open in Notepad

Search Bing Directly From Notepad

Notepad now allows you to search Bing directly from a text file.
Simply select a word or phrase and select Search with Bing from the Edit menu or press Ctrl + E. Notepad searches the web using Bing and opens the results in Microsoft Edge.
Unfortunately, you can only do searches from Notepad using Bing and Edge. There is no way to change to a different search engine or browser.
Search with Bing in Notepad

Other Changes, Improvements, and Bug Fixes

Microsoft made other small changes and improvements to Notepad. And they fixed some bugs.

Use a Keyboard Shortcut to Delete the Previous Word

Notepad already supports the Ctrl + left arrow and Ctrl + right arrow keyboard shortcuts to move through whole words at a time. You can also use the Shift + Ctrl + left arrow and Shift + Ctrl + right arrow keyboard shortcuts to select whole words at a time.
Now you can also use Ctrl + Backspace to delete the previous word.

Using Arrow Keys on Selected Text

Previously, when you had some text selected and you used the left or right arrow key to move the cursor and deselect the text, the cursor would jump ahead or back one character.
Now, when you move the cursor with the arrow keys while some text is selected, the first key press deselects the text and puts the cursor right after or before where the selection was. The cursor is not advanced an additional character away from the selected text.

Improved Performance When Opening Large Text Files

If you often work with large text files, you’ll be glad to know that Microsoft promises improved performance when opening large files in Notepad.

Some Display Bugs Fixed

Microsoft also fixed some display bugs.
Although we haven’t noticed this bug, Notepad now correctly displays lines that don’t fit entirely on the screen.
Also, when saving a file, the line and column numbers on that status bar don’t reset to 1. They continue showing the correct position of the cursor in the text file.

Increase Your Productivity With the New Notepad

Although there are good Notepad alternatives out there with many more features, Notepad is there by default and still useful for tasks like taking quick notes, editing configuration files, writing scripts and code, and more. There are also some cool tricks you can do with Notepad. And now, with the new features and improvements, you can be more productive in Notepad.
If you still want a text editor with more features than even the improved version of Notepad has, we offer a list of Windows Notepad alternatives.
The 6 Best Windows Notepad Alternatives The 6 Best Windows Notepad Alternatives Windows Notepad is too simple, but Microsoft Office is overkill? If you're looking for a Notepad replacement, here are the leading alternatives. One will be perfect for you. Read More



Disable Cortana Using Group Policy Editor

To disable Cortana in windows 10

  1. Press Win + R keyboard accelerator to open Run dialog box.
  2. Type GPedit.msc and hit Enter or OK to open Local Group Policy Editor. Navigate to Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Search.
  3. In the right pane, double click on policy named Allow Cortana.
  4. Select the Disabled radio button.
  5. Restart the PC and Cortana and Bing Search will be disabled. (May work after signing out and in again)



How to Disable Windows 10 Update in Every Way

Windows 10 Forces Me to Update

"Every time I try to shut down my computer, I was forced to update my Windows 10. But I really don't want to update my operating system because the automatic update might take up the system and network resources. Is there anybody can help me solve this problem and disable Windows 10 update? Thanks in advance."
Whenever you are faced with Windows 10's automatic update notification like:
  • Install updates automatically 
  • Download Updates but choose when to install them
  • Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them
What would you do? Here, we have the following solutions.
Before proceeding with the four solutions to fully stop Windows 10 updates, check your own Windows 10 edition (Home, Professional, Education or Enterprise) by going to Settings -> System -> About so that you can find the most appropriate solution. Besides, the fourth way of trying to control the Windows 10 update by using Registry is somewhat risky, do remember to backup your data and the details will be shown in the extra tips section.

How to Disable Windows 10 Update

Solution 1. Disable Windows Update Service

Understand the limitations of this method. While disabling the automatic update service will temporarily halt any Windows 10 cumulative updates, the service will re-enable itself after a certain amount of time. Here are the directions:
1. Press the Windows logo key + R at the same time to invoke the Run box.
2. Type services.msc and press Enter.

invoke run box and type services.msc

3. Scroll down to Windows Update, and double-click it.

find windows update and double-click it

4. In Startup type, select Disabled. Then click Apply and OK to save the settings.

disable the windows update service

Solution 2. Change the Setting of the Group Policy Editor

The Group Policy feature is not available in the Home edition. So, only when you run Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, or Education, you can use the Group Policy Editor to change the settings to prevent Windows 10 from automatically updating. The group policy editor will notify you of new updates without automatically installing them.
  • Press the Windows logo key + R then type gpedit.msc and click OK.
  • Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update.
  • Double-click Configure Automatic Updates.
  • Select Disabled in Configured Automatic Updates on the left, and click Apply and OK to disable the Windows automatic update feature.
Note: If you need to update your Windows version later, you can repeat the steps above, then select Enabled to turn on this feature, so that you can continue to download the updates.

Solution 3. Meter Your Network Connection

Understand that this method won't work for Ethernet connections. You can only disable automatic updates by using this method on a Wi-Fi connection. If your computer is connected to WiFi, you can try this to stop Windows 10 automatic updates.
1. Click the Start button at the bottom left on your desktop, then click the Settings app.
2. Click Network & Internet.

click network and internet to meter your network connection

3. Click WiF in the left pane, then click the name of your Wi-Fi connection.
4. Click to turn on Set as metered connection.

Solution 4. Change the way of Windows 10 Updates Using Registry

Extra Tips: Editing the registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. It's recommended that you make a full backup of your computer before proceeding. All you need to do is use this free backup software to back up your data in three steps:
Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup and then choose the backup option you want.

choose the data that you want to back up

Step 2. Choose the system, hard drive, files or apps that you want to backup, and then select a destination where you want to store the backup file.
Step 3. Click "Proceed" to backup data from hard drive.
With a backup at hand, now it's safe to customize a Windows 10 update without receiving any forced updates on your computer. Here's how to make the change in Registry:
1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
2. Type regedit, and click OK to open the Registry.
Browse the following path:
3. Right-click the Windows (folder) key, select New, and then click Key.
4. Name the new key WindowsUpdate and press Enter.
5. Right-click the newly created key, select new, and click Key.

disable windows 10 update in registry

6. Name the new key AU and press Enter.
Inside the newly created key, right-click on the right side, select New, and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.
7. Name the new key AUOptions and press Enter.
Double-click the newly created key and change its value to 2. It's for "Notify for download and notify for install". Click OK.
8. Close the Registry to complete the task.
Using this value prevents Windows 10 from downloading updates automatically, and you'll get a notification when new updates are available. By this way, you can avoid any auto Windows 10 update effectively.
That's how you could make an attempt to disable Windows 10 update in every way. Each method has been proved to work as long as you wish to turn off all the automatic updates in Windows 10.
In the end, we're also asked to address another similar Windows 10 update issue which frequently bothers users for a long time, if you're the one who is looking for a way to stop a Windows 10 update in progress, leave this page and move to the linked page for help.



macOS Mojave Dynamic Theme

A great free Windows 10 theme is the macOS Mojave Dynamic Theme. You will need to download the UXTHEME patcher for your version of Windows 10. I am running version-build 1803 and it works great. I also installed the Classic Start Menu. See my screen shots and a link below where to find it. The author also created the wallpaper to go with it. Enjoy...

You can get the theme here:


How To Send Text Messages From Windows 10 PC

Would you like to see messages that you received on your Android phone on your Windows 10 PC as well? Would you also like to send SMS and MMS messages right from your Windows 10 PC?
If you are a Windows 10 PC user, you will be happy to know that it’s possible to receive and send messages (SMS and MMS) right from your Windows 10 computer. The only catch is that the feature supports only Android phones at present. So, iPhone users cannot send and receive messages from Windows 10 PC at this point in time.
receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic8

Before knowing how to receive and send messages from your Windows 10 PC, you should know a couple of things. First, the feature available for PCs running Windows 10 version 1803 or later. Second, your Android device must be running 7.0 (Nougat) or later version and must be connected to a Wi-Fi.

This is how it works. The official Your Phone app in Windows 10 helps you receive and respond to text messages. You just need to link your Android phone to your Windows 10 PC (a one-time exercise) to access messages on Android phone right from your Windows 10 PC without having to connect your phone to PC.
The Your Phone app displays messages that you received or sent within the past 30 days. It will display both SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). Other types of messages such as Rich Communication Service (RCS) are not supported.
In this guide, we will see how to setup Your Phone app in Windows 10 to receive and send text messages.

Receive and send text messages from Windows 10 PC

Step 1: On your Windows 10 PC, install Your Phone app from the Store (Store link). If you are running Windows 10 1809 or later version, you don’t need to install the app from Store as it’s preinstalled.
Step 2: Once you launch the Your Phone app, you will be asked to sign in to your Microsoft account. Sign in to your Microsoft account.

receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic1

Step 3: Next, you will see Link your phone and PC screen. Click on the Link phone button.

receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic3

Step 4: When you are asked to enter your mobile number, please enter the mobile number that you are using on your Android device and then click Send button to receive a text message on your phone with a link to download the Your Phone Companion app.

receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic4

Generally, you will receive the message in a few seconds. But if you don’t receive the message even after a minute or two, click on the Resend link.

receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic6

Step 5: On your phone, open the text message, tap on the link, get the Phone Companion app, and then sign in to the Microsoft account (the same account that you used to sign in on Windows 10 PC) when you are asked to do so to link your Android phone and Windows 10 PC.

Step 6: Finally, open the Your Phone app on your PC and then click on Messages on the left side of the app to view text messages.
receive and send text messages from your Windows 10 PC pic8

To send a new message, click on New message.
TIP: If your Phone App is not displaying messages, make sure that it’s allowed to run in the background by navigating to Settings app > Privacy > Background apps.
As you can see in pictures above, you can also access Android phone photos from your Windows 10 PC using Your Phone. Click on the Photos in the left side of the app to see all recently captured photos. Please note that it shows only most recent photos and not all.



How to download Windows 10 version 1809 right now

Microsoft plans to release Windows 10 version 1809 at the beginning of October 2018 to the public. While it is probably a good idea to wait at least a month before installation of the update on production machines, downloading and installing the update early is great for test environments, virtual machines, and on systems where backups may restore the previous status quo if things should go wrong.
German tech site Deskmodder found a way to download the Windows 10 version 1809 update right now. The method described uses Microsoft's own Media Creation Tool to download the update and either install it on the machine it is executed on or create installation media on USB Flash Drives or as ISO images.
The process itself is pretty straightforward; note that it requires running a command from an elevated command prompt but that is all there is to it.
Some useful links to start:


You need to download two files to a PC and place them in the same folder.
  1. Download the Media Creation Tool for Windows 10 version 1803 from Microsoft. Note that you don't want to execute the tool right away as it only offers version 1803 and not 1809, the version that you are after.
  2. Download the new zip archive from the Deskmodder website. Note: You can also download it from this GitHub page.
  3. Create a new folder on the system, e.g. c:\1809.
  4. Place the downloaded MediaCreationTool1803.exe file in the folder.
  5. Extract the downloaded zip archive and place the file in the folder as well.
  6. Both files, MediaCreationTool1803.exe and should now be in the same folder.

Download Windows 10 version 1809

Once you are done with the preparations, it is time to start the download of Windows 10 version 1809.
media creation
Open an elevated command prompt to get started.
  1. Activate the Start button.
  2. Type cmd.exe.
  3. Hold down the Shift-key and the Ctrl-key on the keyboard.
  4. Select cmd.exe from the list of results with the mouse, keyboard or touch. This should launch an elevated command prompt after you accept the UAC prompt. Verify that this is the case by checking that the title of the command prompt window starts with Administrator:
  5. Change to the directory that you created previously, e.g. cd c:\1809.
  6. Run MediaCreationTool1803.exe /Selfhost
The command starts the Media Creation Tool and forces it to use the local file overriding the default.
From there, it is just a matter of following the prompts on screen. You have the option to upgrade the current PC or create installation media.
create windows 10 1809 installation
I prefer to select the "create installation media" option even if my intention is to update the local PC. Doing so gives me access to the installation media so that I can reuse it, use it to install Windows 10 anew on the device, or access some of the tools that it includes.
Selecting "upgrade this PC now" on the other hand offers none of that. The tool downloads the Windows 10 installation files and saves them either as an ISO image on the system or creates a bootable USB Flash Drive out of it.
downloading windows 10
Use the bootable USB Flash Drive to start the upgrade to Windows 10 version 1809, burn the ISO or create a virtual machine image using it.
Microsoft will release an updated Media Creation Tool eventually so that you may use it directly and don't have to rely on the workaround to create Windows 10 version 1809 installation media.



Windows 10 vs. Windows 8.1 vs. Windows 7 Performance

Three years ago we were benchmarking Microsoft's then latest operating system, Windows 8. At the time we were keen to make sure Windows 8 performed as well as Windows 7, which was a huge upgrade from 2006's Windows Vista.
In the end, we determined that Windows 8 was on par with 7 and at times a fraction faster, leading us to this conclusion in our performance review:
"Looking beyond benchmarks, Windows 8 appears more polished than Windows 7, even if you plan to live on the desktop and aren't too fond of the Start screen, general usage is smoother and appears to be faster on Windows 8, which I found most noticeable on our somewhat underpowered Athlon II X4 system. If anything, it's a great start. Now the Metro/Modern style will have to prove itself as a cross-platform OS that marries desktop, laptop and tablet PCs."
It's obvious now that the 'Metro' Start screen was an epic failure and in my opinion it was the only real issue with Windows 8, as I thoroughly enjoyed using the operating system with Classic Shell installed.
Fortunately, Microsoft learned from its mistakes and addressed some of Windows 8's shortcomings in Windows 10, which we believe is the best version yet, if only for its improved looks and functionality across devices and form factors.
After running the beta for months, I installed Windows 10 on launch day with the impression that it was relatively fast and stable, though it remained to be seen precisely how fast it was compared to Windows 8.1 and the beloved Windows 7.
That's what we plan to find out today as we test various aspects of the operating system including boot up and shutdown times, file copying, encoding, browsing, gaming and some synthetic benchmarks.

Test System Specs

All three operating systems were tested using a fresh install with all the updates applied and then our test software installed. The exact same hardware was used for each configuration with the only difference being the OS used.
  • Intel Core i5-4670K (3.4GHz - 3.8GHz)
  • Asrock Z97 Extreme6
  • 8GB DDR3-2400 RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
  • Crucial MX200 1TB
  • SilverStone Essential Gold 750w
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Boot, Sleep & Hibernate Performance

Using BootRacer we measured the time it took for Windows to boot. Windows 8.1 delivered the best result taking just four seconds opposed to six seconds on Windows 10, from the Windows logo to usable desktop.
Manually measuring boot time with a stopwatch delivered similar results, though in realistic terms I struggled to find real differences, with the three operating systems just one or two seconds apart from each other on a fresh install.
Surely these results will vary depending on hardware used, configuration and state of the operating system after months of use, patching and third party apps taking its inevitable toll. We know our hardware was identical for all three OS configurations, so with this setup Windows 10 does appear slightly slower at booting.
Here we measured the time it takes for the system to wake up from sleep. The test stops the moment the desktop is loaded and we induced sleep with a custom shortcut.
Windows 7 takes quite long to wake from sleep -- 17 seconds on average. Windows 8.1 is considerably faster taking just 12 seconds, though Windows 10 was able to improve on this shaving off an additional 2 seconds.
Editor's note (Update): Many readers have pointed out how slow these wake up from sleep times are compared to your laptop where either version wakes up almost instantaneously. The reason is that we ran all tests in a desktop PC, where Windows defaults to Hybrid Sleep. Hybrid sleep is a combination of sleep and hibernate meant to prevent users from losing work in case of a power failure.
The wake up from hibernation results are similar to wake from sleep. Here Windows 10 took just 21 seconds, while Windows 8.1 was slightly slower taking 23 seconds and then Windows 7 at 27 seconds.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Cinebench R15 typically has an error margin of around 5%, though the impact of this can be reduced by taking an average of three runs, which is exactly what we have done. Looking at the single thread results we see a very slight increase in score from Windows 7 to 8.1 and then from 8.1 to 10. Certainly nothing to write home about, but this did have a greater impact on the multi-threaded results where Windows 10 was 7% faster than Win 7, though it was just 2% faster than Win 8.1.

Next up we have PCMark 7 with some interesting results: Windows 8.1 was consistently faster than Win 7 by a little over 100pts while Windows 10 was around 600pts faster on average. Further examination reveals that for whatever reason PCMark 7 was showing much higher "video playback and transcoding / video transcoding" performance under Windows 10 than the previous Microsoft operating systems. The result was almost twice as fast in hitting 9600kB/s.
The last synthetic benchmark we are going to look at is 3D Particle Movement and here we see similar results across all three operating systems. Windows 10 was on average the slowest, while Windows 8.1 provided the best results.

Application Performance

Windows 10 delivered similar performance to Win 7 in Excel 2013, while 8.1 was consistently slower.
At this point Firefox is slower in Windows 10 when compared to 8.1 and 7, based on an average of 7 runs we found it was 7% slower.
Please note again that lower is better here despite the ordering of the graph suggesting otherwise. Rather than sort the data from fastest to slowest for this review we have locked each operating system in order. This should help make reading the data faster since each operating system will assume the same location on each graph, the randomness of the results shouldn't be too bad given there are just three configurations.
Interestingly both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 were slower than Windows 7 when measuring Chrome performance in the Mozilla Kraken browser benchmark, quite a bit slower in fact.
As you can see Internet Explorer 11 is very slow on all three operating systems compared to Firefox and Chrome. However, Microsoft's new Edge browser, which is exclusive to Windows 10, performs much better with comparable results to Firefox and Chrome.
The Windows 10 performance when testing with WinRAR wasn't great as it was consistently slower than 8.1 and 7 when measuring single and multi-threaded performance.
The best results with Photoshop CC were seen when using Windows 8, while Windows 10 matched the performance of Windows 7.
There's not a lot to say here as all three operating systems delivered the same performance in Illustrator CC.
Like what we saw when testing with WinRAR, we find that Windows 10 is slower than both 8.1 and 7 in 7-Zip.

Storage Performance

We have updated the initial storage results testing both AHCI (Samsung SSD 850 Pro) and NVMe (Samsung SM951) solid state storage. The following tests were conducted using the Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD installed on the Asrock Z97 Extreme6.
The CrystalDiskMark sequential 32 queues and 1 thread test provided similar results across all three operating systems using the Samsung SSD 850 Pro 512GB.
The 4K 32 queues and 1 thread test showed Windows 10 and 8.1 delivering similar read performance while Windows 7 was a fraction slower. That difference was amplified when looking at the write performance, here Windows 7 was noticeably slower.
The sequential performance was again very similar as Windows 10 and 8.1 provided almost identical performance, Windows 7 was again just a fraction slower.
Finally the 4K performance with the Samsung SSD shows all three operating systems delivering similar results, this time Windows 7 is slightly faster than Windows 10.

Storage Performance with the Samsung SM951 NVMe SSD

The following tests were conducted using the Samsung SM951 256GB NVMe SSD installed in the Ultra M.2 slot on the Asrock Z97 Extreme6. Note we were unable to get the SM951 NVMe working in Windows 7.
Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 show similar SSD performance when using an M.2 NVMe drive.
Again Windows 10 and 8.1 are evenly matched when measuring 4K Q32T1 performance.
The sequential results are also much the same.
The 4K performance provides mixed results. Windows 10 was a fraction better when measuring read performance while Windows 8.1 was much better when comparing write performance.

Encoding Performance

Windows 10 delivered similar performance to Windows 7 in our HandBrake encoding test while 8.1 was noticeably faster than both.
Our Hybrid 4K benchmark saw almost no difference in performance between the three operating systems, though again Windows 10 matched 7 while 8.1 was a fraction faster.
Yet again we see that Windows 10 matched Windows 7 while it was slightly slower than 8.1 -- I emphasize slightly.

Gaming Performance

As anticipated, it looks like Windows 10 offers little to no performance advantages over previous versions when it comes to DX11 gaming, at least not in BioShock.
Surprisingly Windows 10 provided consistent gains in Metro Redux with the GTX 980. This could simply be an issue with the drivers though.
Performance slightly drops off in Hitman when moving from Windows 7 to 8.1 and then to 10.
Tomb Raider delivered the exact same performance across all three Microsoft operating systems.
Finally we have Crysis 3 and here Windows 10 performed well, delivering strong performance at both tested resolutions.

Faster, Slower, Better?

After watching near-identical results pour in on most tests, from application to encoding, to storage and gaming, it's hard to read too much into results as there are many variables we can't control.
The same hardware that currently runs Windows 7 competently can be upgraded to Windows 10 with no issues whatsoever on the performance front.
We can ensure that the operating systems were evaluated using the exact same hardware, benchmarking software and methodology. However, we can't ensure that something such as GPU driversdidn't cause variations in performance. Moreover, technologies such Intel's Turbo boost feature can impact the accuracy of the results, though we generally run all tests at least three times, taking the average from multiple runs.
The short version of this conclusion is that a properly set up Windows machine equipped with semi-modern hardware should be capable of running Windows 7 or above more than adequately. The same hardware that currently runs Windows 7 competently can be upgraded to Windows 10 with no issues whatsoever on the performance front.
It used to be the case a few generations back that a new Windows release would need time to be at least on par with the performance of its predecessor. Possibly the most extreme example I can recall was the move from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Though that was partly due to immature drivers on the all-new platform, Vista was a resource hog, too.
We wouldn't be surprised if certain aspects of Windows 10's performance are improved over the coming months and into next year, but most importantly today, you can feel free to upgrade and know you won't be sacrificing performance in the process.
There are going to be future performance benefits of Windows 10 that we can't measure yet, and even once we can, we won't be able to compare the changes with previous operating systems -- DirectX 12 gaming, for example, will only be supported by Windows 10 and later.
On that subject, 3DMark features a DX12 API Overhead test but this is only useful for comparing different hardware as there isn't a DX11 version and it can only be run using Windows 10.
There are going to be future performance benefits of Windows 10 that we can't measure yet, and even once we can, we won't be able to compare the changes with previous operating systems -- DirectX 12 gaming, for example...
Benchmarks aside, Windows 10 appears to be a solid operating system, though my experience hasn't been quirk-free on the seven systems I have running Windows 10 (six of which have been upgraded from 8.1). The upgrade process is shockingly quick and easy. One of the systems I upgraded for example has well over 1TB worth of applications installed and it went smoothly all around regardless.
There have been a few minor issues so far. I haven't looked into this yet, but my photo and media libraries with thousands of items take a long time to load in Windows 10, whereas they loaded instantly before the upgrade from 8.1. Clearly a bug waiting to be fixed.
On the gaming front, I found strange input lag in StarCraft II. It wasn't hugely noticeable but scrolling and commands took slightly longer than they did in Windows 8.1, just enough that in a competitive game it felt sluggish.
After a quick Google search I found a number of users complaining about the same thing and all sources blamed Windows 10's Xbox application which is built into the OS and cannot be removed via conventional methods.
Despite never running this app or having an Xbox account to actually use it, it appears this was my problem. Fortunately, there's a Powershell command to disable the Xbox app and doing so eliminated the lag, allowing StarCraft II to play like it did on Windows 8.1. It was a disappointing discovery, but I'm glad it was relatively easy to overcome with some help from the Internet.