The guide to downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7: From A-Z

8 to 7

Compared to Windows 7 or any other previous version, Windows 8 brings a radical shift to the way we interact with computers moving forward with many new features and a complete overhauled interface (the new Modern UI). Windows 8 is a touch-first operating system and it is always connected to the cloud. It brings improved support for multi-monitor support, faster boot time and the new option to sign-in using a Microsoft account are just a few out of hundreds other changes inside the new OS. Even though these are great improvements, some people are finding these changes challenging and hard to figure out, making them get into a learning curve that they may not want to embark right at this time. As a result we are starting to see many users wanting to downgrade to Windows 7.

 

In a previous article, I showed you how to rollback to Windows 7 if you upgraded to Win 8. However, this only covered folks with an earlier version of the operating system, but how about those users who just purchased a brand new PC, right? The good news is that if you bought a PC preinstalled with Windows 8 Pro (the business version), you have the downgrade rights to install Windows 7 free. The catch is that it is not a straightforward process, everything involves time and jumping through hopes. This is nothing new, we all know that most companies will try to make it a very tedious process, that way you stay with the OS you already bought.

One thing worth pointing out is that there is a price difference between Windows 8 (core) and Windows 8 Pro (business), last which is more expensive, up to $100 difference in some cases. It will all depend where and when you buy your new Windows 8 PC. Also each computer manufacture deals with downgrades differently; for instance, HP only supports downgrading in new Windows 8 Pro PCs, which happens to be Microsoft’s policy as well. Other companies have ridicules rules such as, Yes! You can install an older version of Windows as long you buy a new Windows 7 license and so on…

Be sure

 

Knowing first hand that you don’t want to deal with Windows 8, purchasing a PC preinstalled with Windows 7 can save you many problems — not that the OS is the problem here –. If you do your homework and shop around your favorite retail stores or online e.g., Amazon, you’ll still find great deals on Windows 7 PCs.

Considerations

Downgrading is only good as long there is support for it. What I mean is that moving back to a previous version of the operating system will inherit the licensing terms and support lifecycle of the old OS. For example, Windows 8 Mainstream support ends 1/9/2018 and Windows 7 Mainstream support ends 1/3/2015, all this means that the older OS will shorten the lifecycle support of the product.

One more thing many people are not considering is that being able to choose to remove the operating system for hardware specifically designed for Windows 8 and installing Windows 7 doesn’t guarantee that the PC will run “better”, manufactures are advising consumers that drivers may not work as expected in an older OS.

It is only logical to buy a Windows 8 Pro computer with the rights to downgrade, as long you plan to come back to Windows 8 desktop some time in the future. So when you are ready, your hardware will be ready as well.

If you bought a Windows 8 Pro to upgrade Windows XP or Vista. You cannot downgrade to Windows 7 — that will technically be considered an upgrade, because you are moving to a newer operating system –. You can only go back to the previous operating system that was original to the PC.

FAQ

1. Which operating system can I downgrade to?

Every Windows 8 Pro has the right to downgrade to either Windows 7 Professional or Vista Business. 

2. What do I need to downgrade?

A lot of patience and you’ll also need the installation media of that operating system you want to go back to, plus a valid product key. If you upgraded to Windows 8 and you need to return to Windows 7, you can use this guide.

3. How can I find the installation media?

Oh, Boy! You’re on your own in this one. But I would recommend to try calling the company you bought the PC from and see if they can send you a copy of the OS you need (7 Professional or Vista Business) — But if they ask you money for it, I wouldn’t recommend going this path, unless is just for the shipping cost.

One thing to understand here, is that downgrades have only been designed for companies and not for home consumers (this is one of the reasons why is so difficult). It just happen that anyone can take advantage of this right. Business can downgrade to any previous version of Windows with the volume licensing agreement from Microsoft.

4. How to go downgrading?

Compared to all we talked about today, this is a piece of cake. Rolling back is as easy as you would expect performing a clean install. First backing up important personal files is crucial, you never know when things will go south, having a backup in portable hard drive or in an online backup solution is always a good idea. It is also a good plan to create a Windows 8 recovery media, that way when you are ready for the new version of Windows — Try this guide for this task.

Once everything is placed, pop the Windows 7 or Vista installation media in your system and reboot. Follow the on-screen instructions, at the time to type the product key, enter the serial that correspond to the Windows’ version you are installing. But make a note of the Windows 8 Pro product key, you’ll need it later when returning to the OS — Here is the complete guide for a successful Windows installation.

After the installation, make sure that you connect your PC online, activate Windows — If the activation fails, chances are it is because you used the same product key to activate the OS once before, if so, you’ll be better off calling Microsoft support –; download and install all the remaining device drivers, and install an antivirus solution (e.g., Microsoft Security Essentials). Finally, install all the programs you need.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, 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 About.me.