Because you’ve been so impatient with the Upgrade Assistant – How to get the Windows 8 ISO File

Windows 8 is there. Two days are gone and after waiting so long, you probably already purchased and downloaded Windows 8, as Microsoft came along with a time limited offer for a great price model, if you already have a PC running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7

Once you run through the purchase process (they accept credit card or PayPal), at one point after the download finished, the Windows Upgrade Assistant comes up with the following dialog:Install Windows 8

Because you’ve waited for so long you are quite impatient and go straight  for the first option because you think you can create the media later one… If done so, the Upgrade Assistant will install Windows 8. Eventually, there won’t be any option to create the media later on.

What now? If you just need the files, you can turn on hidden files in Windows Explorer (it’s now in the Ribbon). You will see a folder ESD on the root of your drive containing a Windows folder with the downloaded installation files. Go ahead and make a backup if required.

Hidden ESD Folder

If you try to create an .iso file using the Upgrade Assistant again, you probably fail by getting the following result.

Windows 8 isn't available for download

In case you still need (or just want) the .iso file, there is a way to obtain it. First of all, check your mail for the order confirmation of your Windows 8 copy. At the very top of the mail, you will find a link to download Windows again.

Thanks for your order

Following the link, you will download the Windows 8 Setup (windows8-setup.exe). Once started this will straight let you choose whether to install, download or to postpone the installation as seen above. Chose Install by creating a media and either choose to burn a DVD to to copy the files on a USB stick (3GB required, though).

Choose which media to use

You will be asked to choose the place where to save the .iso file, after which the download process starts immediately.

That’s all you have to do. Whether you have been impatient, clicked to fast, did not read carefully or just clicked ‘next’, ‘next’, ‘next’, there is still a way to get the .iso file afterwards.


  1. Annoyed


    Thanks for the tip.

    The whole situation is however one more sad example of how Microsoft is exceptionally skilled at taking basic and simple things and turning them into a twisted and complicated process.

    I’ve read the promo-page by Microsoft and its QA section and I haven’t understood exactly how it works. I’m not an idiot, I’m a software developer, but the text raised more questions than answered. I decided to skip on that thing simply because I was not able to comprehend how it was going to work.

    All that was needed really is one paragraph saying something along the lines of “you’ll be getting an email with a product key and a direct link to an ISO”.

    Frankly it’s one of those times where you think why don’t you download Ubuntu instead. It’s so simpler. And free of course.

    • Reply

      The Upgrade Assistant works like a charm. However, in “my region/country” there was no upgrade available for personal files, settings and apps. So I had to go with personal files only. Again, as I tried to create the .iso afterwards i was told there is no upgrade available in ‘my region/country’. The fact that you need another tool to download the bits afterwards is annoying, indeed.
      However, with the upgrade assistant Microsoft improved a lot, Paying using PayPal, a local distributor (providing local VAT), the inplace upgrade was quite a good user experience. Said hat, you are right it could be even better. And just switching to Ubuntu does not work so easy, does it? What’s with all your data, documents, data lock ins? What’s about the programs/tools you have to use in your day job? What if your customer want you to develop for Windows 8? What if your customer does not pay for something you develop on Ubuntu?

  2. Annoyed


    You are correct about all of those things. It limits your options.
    I for once have been staying with Windows platform since the 90s. I’d like to continue on that path, but… seeing what they have done with Windows and especially how they royally screwed the Visual Studio 2012, I’m getting nervous. It seems like some bold head in Microsoft is pushing the new course and this course is not taking the users on it but leaves them behind. I fear Microsoft can indeed win the fight but lose the battle if everyone is going to stick with the old software. For now I have no choice but to stick with Win7 and VS 2010 and hope they reverse that course. If it stays the same by mid 2013 I’ll probably be beginning to learn Linux tools (wanted to do it professionally for a long time). If the course is not reversed my mid 2014 I will be moving to Linux decisively.

  3. Reply

    Hi, following your suggestion, but the windows 8 setup downloading the file again…or i need to wait a bit longer?

  4. Pingback: Windows 8 Install Disk

  5. minecraftpig


    Can you upload the setup file for me to download? I’ve been having trouble from the email and I just can’t get it to work. Thanks.

    • Reply

      Hi person without a real name – of course… not! If you have trouble downloading the official way, contact the MSFT support, they should be able to help you.

  6. Reply

    We are a MS partner and have a Win8 key. So, how do we go about downloading Win8 ? I couldn’t find any info anywhere on the web!!

  7. DJ


    Andreas, excellent article, thx for posting this.

    I am a MAC noob and decided that due to my intense PC data requirements for one of my data softwares that is was probably best to open a true/native PC partition thru Bootcamp vs continuing to use (virtual) Parallels. Although I like Par and it does super for my other PC apps, my trading software was lethargic and felt the virtual may be playing a role. That being said, I’ve gone from Windows XP to Windows 8.

    Now don’t laugh, but I used the W8 download assist, have NO iso nor disc that is NOW needed to I used the LINK from the receipt and now W8.exe resides in my Mac/download list. THIS article saved my _**. Now to get Bootcamp installed…MY question is this…I restored my OSX Lion last night…was tired of the messages and interferences I was seeing. So in order to download Windows 8.exe (to create disc or USB drive) for getting Bootcamp installed…do I need to first reinstall Paralles, so that I can open Windows8.exe from which to burn disc that I need for Bootcamp install?

    I’m thinking yes but I’m no MAC-daddy.

    Thx in advance – DJ

  8. GuiMaster


    Annoyed – “The whole situation is however one more sad example of how Microsoft is exceptionally skilled at taking basic and simple things and turning them into a twisted and complicated process.”

    No, “Annoyed,” this isn’t about making things unnecessarily difficult. It’s about control. Microsoft are a bunch of controlling a-holes. That’s why people try and get away from using Microsoft products.

    But why should Microsoft amend their ways, when the people are willing to keep buying despite the B.S. they have to put up with?

  9. pedro1


    I just purchased a new HP laptop with Win 8. It came so full of bloatware that I must reinstall Win 8 from scratch. In particular a trial version of Norton Internet Security is impossible to uninstall.

    I have tried to use Windows8-Setup to get the .iso file but each time it says “The data necessary to complete this operation is not yet available.”

    The new laptop is almost a brick.

  10. Robert


    When I followed the instructions I only get 2 options, “Install Now” or “Install later from desktop”. Any ideas?
    (More detail: I purchased a Win 8 upgrade for $14.99. I downloaded, installed and activated my Win 8 system. Took an image of the install and then replaced it with my XP image from before the Win 8 install. Using WinXP & the email link as described above to download & run the Windows8-Setup.exe file. Took about 1 hour to download the setup files, they mostly go to C:\ESD some files also at C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\WebSetup.) Was hoping there might be a switch I can add to the desktop shortcut (currently the desktop s/c is “C:\Documents and Settings\Doug\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\WebSetup\Sources\WebSetup.exe” /late)

  11. Reply

    Hi, I have followed your lead and tried to download from the Email link, it accepts my PK but then a box comes up saying that “We can’t connect at the moment-check your internet connection and try later”?? Any help gratefully accepted.

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