How to install Windows 11 23H2 mounting ISO file without USB

You don't need a USB installation media to install Windows 11 23H2, you can use the ISO file, and here's how.

Windows 11 23H2 ISO install
Windows 11 23H2 ISO install

UPDATED 11/1/2023: It’s possible to install Windows 11 23H2 without a USB flash drive if the device already has an older version of Windows 11 or any supported version of Windows 10. You only need to mount the ISO file to File Explorer and launch the upgrade process. However, if the device uses version 22H2, the best option to upgrade is using the “Windows Update” settings since the setup wizard will perform a complete reinstallation.

Although you typically have to use a USB flash drive to perform a clean installation or in-place upgrade, you can also use the virtual disc drive support to mount the Windows 11 23H2 ISO file to launch the setup without any physical media. 

This guide will teach you how to perform a Windows 11 23H2 upgrade or clean installation without a bootable USB or Media Creation Tool.

Important: This process will delete everything on your device. It’s recommended to make a full backup of your computer before proceeding. You’ve been warned.

Install Windows 11 23H2 mounting ISO on File Explorer

To install Windows 11 23H2 without a USB flash drive, use these steps:

  1. Download Windows 11 23H2 ISO file.

  2. Open File Explorer.

  3. Open the folder location for the ISO file.

  4. Right-click the ISO file and select the Mount option.

  5. Click on the mounted drive from the left navigation pane.

  6. Double-click the Setup file to begin the Windows 11 23H2 upgrade process.

  7. (Optional) Click the “Change how Windows Setup downloads updates” option.

    Windows 11 setup update options

  8. Select the “Not right now” option.

    Disable updates during installation

  9. Click the Next button.

  10. Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.

    Media Creation Tool settings

  11. Click the Install button.

If you have to perform a clean installation of version 23H2, click the “Change what to keep” option, select the “Nothing” option instead, click the “Next” button, and then click the “Install” button.

Once you complete the steps, the Windows 11 2023 Update will install on your desktop, laptop, or tablet. In the case that this is an in-place upgrade, the wizard will skip the Out-of-box Experience (OOBE) because all your settings, apps, and files will transfer automatically to the new setup.

Update September 25, 2023: The update available on September 26, 2023, only enables some of the features for version 23H2 (including Copilot, Windows Backup, redesigned File Explorer, updated Settings, Dynamic Lighting, and others) on devices already running Windows 11 22H2. However, the system will continue to show version 22H2 on the About settings page. Once Microsoft completes this rollout, at a later time, before the end of 2023, another update will become available to finish deploying the rest of the feature update and switch the system from version 22H2 to 23H2. After this point, the company is expected to update the Media Creation Tool, Installation Assistant, and ISO file. Also, devices with older releases of the operating system may be able to update directly to version 23H2 from Windows Update.

Update November 1, 2023: This guide has been updated to reflect that the Windows 11 2023 Update is now available for download and installation on compatible devices.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].