How to create a custom Windows 10 ISO file from any Insider Preview build

ESD Decryption tool

Recently Microsoft released the Windows 10 Insider Preview build, but the big surprise to many users is that they also learned that Microsoft won’t making available an ISO version of the operating system via the Windows Insider Program.

This should not be a problem as you can easily go to PC settings, Preview builds, and install the latest build from Microsoft’s servers. But the issue is that many users are testing Windows 10 Insider Preview on dual-boot system using a virtual hard drive (VHD/VHDX) and as it turns out this configuration isn’t supported to install new builds as users are getting the message “can’t install to a virtual hard drive” with the error message 0x80246007.

However, there is a workaround, you can create your own Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO image file or you can even convert the install.ESD to an install.wim to create a new VHD/VHDX and dual-boot your system with the latest version of Windows 10.

For those unfamiliar with the files: the install.ESD is basically is a file that contains all the Windows installation files, but it’s protected with encryption, and you can’t do much with it. The install.WIM is the same file as the .ESD, but it’s not protected, meaning that you can extract all the files without much difficulty with the right tool.

Things you’ll need…

  • A copy of the install.ESD file of the corresponding version of Windows 10. There is a numbers of ways in which you could do this. If you’re a good online scout, you’ll can figure this one out. Then you can also opt to create a virtual machine with the latest Insider Preview. Then you can browse C:\RecoveryImage where you can find the install.ESD. Or alternatively, you can start the installation on system that you can’t upgrade, and as soon the bits are downloaded and you click Install Now, quickly, go to C:\$Windows.~BT\Sources and copy the install.ESD to a new location.
  • ESD Decrypter tool, you can download it here.

How to create a Windows 10 ISO file from any Insider build

  1. Unpack the ESD Decrypter (You can use 7zip to do this).

  2. Copy the ESD Decrypter content files to the folder where you copied the install.ESD file.

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

  4. A blue screen Command Prompt will appear with a few options. Here you can choose to decrypt and convert an install.ESD to an install.wim, or you can create a full ISO file of Windows 10 Insider Preview. You should try creating an ISO version of Windows 10 as it’s more flexible to install the operating system on any machine (option number 4).

Once you have a custom Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO file, everything else is a piece of cake. You can install the operating system in a virtual machine — here are all the instructions. You can dual-boot your current installation using a VHD and the latest preview. 

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

Although, you can now install any version of Windows 10 on any computer. If you’re using a virtual hard drive, you may have to start from scratch — but at least now it’s possible.

Source Chris123NT’s Blog

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].