Computer users may have a few reasons for downloading Windows 7 directly from the Internet. Among the top reasons are installations on computers without DVD drive, downloading the 64-bit edition if it is not supplied with the purchased version (only some Windows 7 editions, like the Professional edition, come with two discs to install 32-bit or 64-bit editions of the operating system), or testing the new operating system before they purchase it.
Not all versions of Windows 7 are offered as trial downloads by Microsoft. That's a problem for users who are looking for a specific version of the operating system that they want to download and install.
Below is a list of direct links to Windows 7 ISO images. These images can be mounted and installed directly, or burned to DVD. They do not come with a product key, and users have 30 days of testing before they need to enter a product key or rearm the operating system for another 30 days of testing.
Update: Microsoft seems to have removed all Windows 7 downloads from Digital River, the digital distribution platform. Downloads are no longer available, and we have removed the links as a consequence. As of this moment, downloads appear to be no longer available.
Update 2: We have published a new guide that lets you download Windows 7 and 8.1 ISO images from Microsoft directly. We suggest you check it out as it is the best option right now to do so.
Update 3: A recovery site is now available that you can use to download a Windows 7 disc image directly. Head over to Microsoft, enter your Windows product key on the website, select your desired product language and follow the instructions on the page to download a fresh copy of the Windows 7 operating system.
Those two editions are the most common Windows 7 editions. All DVDs contain all editions of the operating system. A 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium edition contains all 32-bit editions, and the 64-bit ISOs all 64-bit editions. The easiest way to switch those programs is to use a little portable application (called Windows 7 ISO Edition Switcher) to switch the ISO image that has been downloaded to another edition of Windows. It is for instance possible to turn a Home Premium edition into Ultimate, or Windows 7 Starter. It is still necessary to have a valid product key to activate the operating system. You can read the following article to find out how the portable software does it (How To Install Any Windows 7 Release Candidate Edition). Even though it is about the release candidate, it is still valid for the final version of the operating system.
How fast are the Windows 7 downloads? That depends largely on the load of the server, and the Internet connection of the local computer. We were able to get about 4.5 Megabytes per second, so that the downloads completed in under 7 minutes. The ISO images of Windows 7 have a size of about 2.3 Gigabytes.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.