How to uninstall Windows 8.1 from your PC

Windows 8.1 Final screenshot of the Start screen

Since Microsoft rolled out the latest update for its operating system, I’ve got a lot of emails from readers asking me the same question: “How can I uninstall Windows 8.1?”. This is fair but difficult question to answer, because Windows 8.1 makes Windows 8 better and it shouldn’t be a reason to uninstall. However, it’s still software and now and then errors and conflicts with other software and hardware may arise when upgrading, and uninstalling may just be the only choice.

The first thing you need to know about Windows 8.1 is that it’s not like any previous update we’ve seen before. This new update is practically a new operating system (many will even say it’s Windows 9), as such you cannot just go to the control panel and uninstall Windows 8.1 like an ordinary update or a piece of software. This is more like, you install once and there is not rolling back to Windows 8 or any other previous version of the OS. But of course I’m just referring to undo the upgrade, because it’s possible to get rid of Windows 8.1 from your PC, however it is a more complicated process.

Uninstall Windows 8.1

If you’re reading this before upgrading Windows 8 or Windows 7, the best thing you can do is to create a full system image backup. This type of backup will contain everything in your system, including: operating system, apps, settings, and personal files. Having a backup will allow you to roll back, if anything were to wrong. Also to avoid any errors during the installation, you should read this previous article.

The problem is that most people wanting to uninstall Windows 8.1 is because they already installed it. In this case here some good things you want to know. According to Microsoft’s Update to Windows 8.1: FAQ page, Windows 8 users might restore their PCs to the previous operating system only if the PC originally came with Windows 8 — meaning that you technically cannot undo the upgrade process –. Personal documents won’t get deleted, but apps will need to be reinstalled.


The process to recover is by using the refresh feature: swipe from the right edge or use Windows 8 Key +i to bring Charms, click or tap Change PC settings. Then go to Update and recovery, and go to Recovery. Now under “Refresh your PC without affecting your files”, click or tap Get started and follow wizard. (You can also refer to this previous guide.)

Note: This will only works with PCs what came pre-loaded with Windows 8 and have a recovery partition.

Now for Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP, or custom Windows 8 installation, things are a bit more complicated, because the only way to rollback is by using the recovery discs, partition, or using the Windows media install DVD that came with the computer. For more information, you should refer to your PC manufacturers website to see if you can do this. But you can also refer to this guide to install Windows 7.

Give Windows 8.1 a second chance

Upgrading to a new operating system can be time-consuming and a difficult thing to do and even after things may not work the way it should. This could cause of software and hardware that isn’t compatible with Windows 8.1 or you carried over some problems from the previous installation.

So, when I say “give Windows 8.1 a second chance”, I mean install it from scratch, start over. This process will guarantee you the most success. Now, Microsoft has told us that the only way to update is through the Windows Store and Windows 8 users won’t be able to download the ISO to install the update, which is the only way to install the OS. However there is a nifty trick to download the legit Windows 8.1 ISO from Microsoft, you can use it to get the installation files to do the upgrade — here are the instruction for this process.

Final thoughts

Although, you might get into some issues installing the update, it doesn’t mean that the new version of the OS is terrible and you have to uninstall. This update has been in the works for a year and it’s meant to fix many of the shortcoming in Windows 8, there are so many small changes that it really makes a big difference. Also Windows 8.1 is the first yearly update Microsoft is releasing, as such you can expect something similar next year.

Also remember that if you uninstall Windows 8.1 and restore Windows 8, you only have until 2015 to upgrade back again, as Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 8 by then.

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].