Windows 8 is up and running. It has lots and lots of new features, new user interface and an overall new feel. If you think “Well, this is awesome and I like Windows 8”, then the following tutorial won’t be of much help to you. On the other hand, if you think that Microsoft’s “new and improved” operating system is not the one for you (and I can honestly understand why not), then you might want to go back to Windows 7 (or Vista, which is a bad idea).
Recently, this became a problem for those who have bought computers or laptops produced by HP that came with the Windows 8 OEM installed. At that time, HP declared that they will not offer support for anyone who will downgrade to Windows 7 from Windows 8, thus creating quite a stir among the owners of HP computers. Much to their relief, HP has updated their policy and now users can downgrade to Windows 7 without voiding their warranty. Maybe other OEMs will follow HP’s example.
Downgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 7
Microsoft allows users who own a copy of Windows 8 Pro to downgrade to an older version of Windows, be it 7 or Vista (downgrade to XP is not supported), as they had done with previous versions of Windows, as we can see from the Windows 8 license agreement:
Instead of using the Windows 8 Pro software, you may use one of the following earlier versions: Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business.
Now that you have caught your breath knowing that you have the possibility to downgrade, let’s move on to the next step: how to downgrade to Windows 7 from Windows 8?
There is no easy way to do this, because Microsoft does not provide such a tool in any of their operating systems. Also, I have consulted with the Microsoft website and there is no information available on how to downgrade your Windows operating system. This means that only those who have OEM licenses of Windows 8 can downgrade to Windows 7, but the downgrade must be done by the computer manufacturer. If you only bought a retail version of Windows 8, you are left with one option: buy a copy of Windows 7 (if you do not have one yet) and install it on your computer.
Installing Windows 7 over Windows 8
If you are installing a new OS on your device, there are a few steps you must undergo before starting. First of all, determine if there is any information on your C: partition that you want to keep. If so, copy it on your other partitions/cloud service/external drive. Also, just to be safe, you can make a disk image of your C: drive as a backup, just in case you will encounter errors and need to revert to Windows 8. After saving all your files, you can continue by making a boot-able drive with Windows 7. For this, you will need the .ISO image file of Windows 7 and a DVD or USB flash drive (the flash drive must have at least 8GB ).
- Creating a boot-able DVD
If you want to create a DVD with Windows 7, you will need to install a program called Nero. This is allow you to create a boot-able DVD very quickly with next to no effort. After installing Nero, stick in your blank DVD and in the Nero main screen select “DVD” and “Open”, now you have to browse for your .ISO file. After opening the file, click on “Burn” and wait for the burning process to complete.
- Creating a boot-able USB Flash Drive
If you will be installing Windows 7 from a USB flash drive, you will notice that there are lots of utilities around the web that allow you to accomplish this, but from personal experience, I would recommend doing this the old fashioned way, with Command Prompt. Also, remember that you will need a USB flash drive that has 8GB or more, and before you start, copy all your files from the flash drive, because this process will erase all the data from the USB flash drive. This is how to do it:
Search for “CMD” and run it as administrator (it is crucial that you run it this way, otherwise it will give you an error later on)
After the command prompt window opens, type “DISKPART” and enter the following commands in this order:
- “LIST DISK”
- A list will appear with all the disks on your computer. See which of them is the USB drive (look at the size of the disk to determine which one it is). If you have only one hard drive on your computer, the USB stick will usually be Disk 1 (we will take this case as an example)
- “SELECT DISK 1” (again, be sure that you have the same number for your USB flash drive)
- “CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY”
- “SELECT PARTITION 1”
- “FORMAT FS=NTFS” and wait for the format to complete (it takes about 10 minutes on a 8GB flash drive)
- “EXIT” – this will exit the “diskpart” utility, but the command prompt will still remain opened. Do not close it because you will use it later on. Now your USB flash drive is seen as a partition, this will allow you to create the boot drive for the Windows 7 operating system also, mount your .ISO image to a virtual drive.
- “D: CD BOOT” (where “D” is the drive letter of your virtual drive where your .ISO file with Windows 7 is mounted)
- “CD BOOT”
- “BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 X:” (where “X” is the letter of your USB flash drive)
Copy all the files from the .ISO file to your USB flash drive and after the process is completed, you are done. Now, with your copy of Windows 7 ready to go, you can perform the normal installation. Select your USB drive as the boot source and install the operating system. It is quite a shame that Microsoft does not implement a feature that allows users to downgrade automatically to an older version of Windows. Especially now, when Windows 8 is so different from the older versions and it might not be to the liking of everyone.