How to create a Windows 10 ISO file using an ESD image

Download the ESD file and create your own bootable ISO files to install Windows 10 from scratch.

Windows 10 desktop with open Start menu (yellow)

Although, Microsoft promised to release the ISO files for each new release of Windows 10, users can only download the bits for build 10041 through Windows Update. The reason could be that Microsoft meant the ISO files will only be available when it releases a new build via the Slow ring.

Even though, this should not be a problem, many users may want to make a clean install of the operating system, instead of using the Windows Update process. Also, a lot of users are testing Windows 10 Technical Preview using virtual hard drives to create a dual-boot system, and, as it turns out, updating this configuration to a newer build isn’t supported.

If you cannot wait for Microsoft to release the ISO files to test Windows 10 build 10041, there is the DIY option, which means that you can create your own bootable installation media. Simply follow the steps below:

How to create an ISO file using an ESD image

  1. Find an install.esd file within your system (e.g., C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources) or from another source.

  2. Download and unpack the ESD Decrypter tool here (esd-decrypter-wimlib-4.7z ). (You can use 7zip to do this.)

  3. Copy and paste the install.ESD file you downloaded into that same folder.

  4. Right-click the decrypt.cmd file and run it as administrator.

  5. Select option number 2 “Create Full ISO with Standard install.esd” and press Enter.

    Install.ESD to Install.WIM

You can use NTLite as an alternative to convert an install.ESD into an ISO (download here).

After you have a custom Windows 10 ISO file, the rest is pretty easy. You can install the operating system on a virtual machine — see all the instructions here. You can dual-boot your current installation using a VHD and Windows 10.

How to use Rufus tool to create Windows 10 USB media

If you’re planning to use the ISO to create a USB bootable media, you can use a little tool Rufus to the job.

  1. Download and install Rufus.

  2. Open Rufus.

  3. Connect your USB drive to your computer and select it under Device.

  4. On “Partition scheme and target system type,” select MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI.

  5. On “File system,” use NTFS.

  6. On “Cluster size,” use the default settings.

  7. On “Create a bootable disk using,” select ISO Image, and click the drive icon to browse the ISO image you just created.

  8. Click the Start button to complete the process.

Once the process completes, you can boot and install Windows 10 on computers running on UEFI BIOS.

To create a bootable USB drive with any version of Windows 10 Technical Preview, you can use this previous guide.

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 15 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 21 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].