Windows 10 version information is easy to find from a running instance. All you need to do is type “winver” into the search box. Then presto, you’ll see something like this:
Run winver.exe to get Win10 version and build info instantly — for running Windows instances.
This is all well and good for running Windows instances, on physical machines and VMs. But I’ve got a lot more copies of Windows laying about than I have running. That’s for sure. Let’s walk through some examples in the sections that follow.
What about non-running Windows OS stuff?
Non-running versions of Windows come in many forms. And, if you’re anything like me, you tend to accumulate them in some quantity. Here, for example, is what Voidtools everything shows me on my production PC when I search for “*win*.iso.” (See the Win10.Guru toolkit item on everything for more info about this great tool.) This gives me a look at ISO files on my system with the string “win” somewhere in their filenames. I count 27 of them, and that only shows the ISO files with “win” somewhere in the filename. Searching on “*.iso” (all files with an ISO extension) adds 15 more files to that count. By inspection, I can tell that more than half of those are Windows versions, too.
Lots of ISO files with Windows images inside, on my production PC (around 35, by my best count).
[Click image for full-sized view.]
But Wait . . . There’s More!
I also use Macrium Reflect as my backup solution. A quick jump into its “Restore” Function shows me 40 items in the backup catalog Reflect catalog (see image at left: click to view full-sized in its own window). Each of those contains a Windows 10 version, too. That’s at least 75 non-running instances of Windows on my PC, any of which I might want to know more about at some time or another.
Here’s the trick: as long as I can access the files inside whatever file format I’ve got a Windows image stored in, I can figure out what version and build of Windows 10 it contains. But to do that I have to be able to access the contents on a file-by-file basis. For ISO files that requires mounting the ISO. This is easily accomplished by right-clicking the .ISO file of interest, and selecting either Mount or Open With from the resulting pop-up menu. If Open with is selected, File Explorer is the tool to choose. It automatically mounts ISO files when this command sequence is used. Macrium includes a handy “Explore image” facility in its Restore capability. You can use it to select a backup from the catalog, and then browse its contents file-by-file.
In either case, the information you seek is in the file named ntoskrnl.exe. If you right click that file and open its Properties window, then click on the Details tab, you’ll see something like this. [Note: I deliberately picked a version of this file from outside the running instance on my production PC, so you can see results from an older, not-running Windows 10 instance.]
Mapping Product Version IDs to Version and Build Numbers
Notice that the product version info in Properties/Details shows as the string 10.0.17134.1. To figure out version number you have to look it up at the Microsoft Flight Hub online. A quick find within that document shows the 17134 Build belongs to Windows 10 April 2018, aka 1803. So the full version and build info for that file is Version 1803, Build 17134.1. This approach works for the vast majority (if not all) Windows 10 Builds. Use it well.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.