How to get the new Windows 10 Creators Update

This major update is available today, but you might still be waiting a while to download it.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
3 min read
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Sarah Tew/CNET

"We don't just hit a button, 400 million machines update and we break the internet," says Microsoft spokesman David Dennis.

No, the Windows 10 Creators Update won't be nearly that fast. Microsoft heard you loud and clear when you said you didn't want updates shoved down your throat -- so even as the company promises a long list of improvements to its operating system, it's going to be a slow, measured rollout.

The Windows 10 Creators Update is officially launching today, April 11. But you shouldn't expect to automatically find the free update on your computer on day one. Microsoft says it could take as long as a couple of months before everyone sees it, and even then you'll have the opportunity to snooze it until you're ready.

"We went into this with the guiding principle of 'do no harm,'" says Dennis, adding that Microsoft is working with individual computer hardware manufacturers to make sure the new update won't cause unforeseen issues on their PCs. (One woman successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 last June.)

But what if you'd rather get the Windows 10 Creators Update as soon as possible, caution be damned? Here are four techniques that might bring you those new features faster.

Try Windows Update

Obvious, yes? But if you haven't checked Windows Update in the past couple of weeks, you might want to check again. Microsoft is advertising the Windows 10 Creators Update right inside the Windows Update setting screen. It looks like this:

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JW Stuart/Microsoft Community

If you press that "Yes, show me how" button, I'm not totally sure it'll bring you the update any quicker. But it registers your interest with Microsoft, so it probably won't hurt to press it, either.

Once the update is available, the steps should be roughly the same as usual:

  • Open the Settings menu and go to Update & security > Windows Update
  • Click Check for updates to prompt your PC to scan for the latest updates. The update will be downloaded and installed automatically.
  • Click Restart Now to restart your PC and complete the installation process, or Pick a time or Snooze if you'd rather restart later.

Join the Windows Insider Program

The riskiest, but also the most certain way to get Windows features fast: opt into a program where Microsoft installs unfinished versions of Windows on your computer. Windows Insiders have already been playing with earlier versions of the Creators Update for months.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, here's what to do:

  • Open the Settings menu and go to Update & security > Windows Update.
  • Pick Advanced options.
  • Under Get Insider Preview builds, pick Get started and say Yes to subsequent prompts. You'll need to restart your computer, and you may have to wait several days before the update follows.

Manually download the update from Microsoft

Microsoft has updated its Software Download page with the Creators Update. You can download Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant or Media Creation Tool at this link to install the update.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

To upgrade:

  • At this link, click the Upgrade Now button to download the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant.
  • Launch it from your Downloads folder, and it'll scan for updates.
  • When the Creators Update is ready, it'll install it at that point -- if not, it should tell you that you're already up to date.

Another way to upgrade:

  • At this link, click the Download tool now button to nab the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
  • Launch it from your Downloads folder, and pick Upgrade this PC now.
  • The tool will automatically download the Windows 10 image file (ISO) and attempt to install it.

Try a clean install

Now we're in the danger zone: a clean install means wiping your PC, so you have the freshest copy of Windows without any bits of old apps clogging things up. (And if you tried it before Microsoft uploaded the Creators Update, you might have wound up with a clean copy of Anniversary Edition instead of the new hotness.)

But -- assuming you know what you're doing -- you'll find our full set of instructions right here. Just skip ahead to the part titled "For Windows 7/8 machines," since those are our instructions for people downloading the image from scratch.