Downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7

If you are looking for a way to downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7, this post will be able to throw some light on the subject. The article talks about restoring a previous Windows installation – Windows 7 or Windows Vista – on a computer currently running Windows 8, and also about the downgrade rights that Microsoft offers.

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Downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7

Not all products include downgrade rights. But Microsoft has enumerated “Downgrade Rights” for Windows 8, that allow users to downgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business, until they are ready to move to the more recent version. The following OEM versions of Windows software are eligible for downgrade rights.

There are no downgrade rights for retail versions of Windows 8. If you upgraded to Windows 8 using a retail version of Windows 8, you have to reinstall Windows 7 by using the recovery or installation media.

If you use an OEM Windows 8, then downgrade rights apply to only Windows 8 Pro and you will be able to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro or Windows Vista Business.

Volume Licensing will however allow you to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro, Windows Vista Business, Windows XP Pro, Windows 2000 Pro and even Windows 95 / 98/ NT.

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According to Microsoft the points to be considered when you downgrade from Windows 8 Pro or Windows 7 are :

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  • Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software.
  • Accept the End User Software License Terms.
  • Perform the downgrade or authorize a third-party to perform it on their behalf.
  • You need a licensed version of Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate. The version should be legally obtained from OEM partner or from retail channels
  • The users who are licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) may provide their VL media and key to a system builder to facilitate the downgrade on their own systems
  • Back up everything
  • Turn off UEFI Secure Boot, if required. Change the settings so that the computer starts in legacy BIOS mode.
  • Now you need to insert the Windows 7 licensed version disk and follow the installation process, and if you’re planning to restore the previous Windows installation by using the Windows.old folder then you could follow this post on how to restore a Windows 7 computer to a previous Windows installation by using the Windows.old folder.
  • The important thing you have to remember is that, at the time of activation, you will not be able to activate it online, you can only activate the software over the phone. Follow this post on how to activate Windows over a phone. Use the Windows 8 license key to activate Windows 7 over the phone. The local Activation Support phone number will be displayed and you will be required to call the Activation Support Line. The Microsoft representative will give you a single-use activation code that you can use to activate Windows 7.
  • If your OEM has pre-injected the product key for Windows 7 Professional on your PC, install Windows 7 Professional by using the recovery media. Alternatively, you may install Windows 7 Professional by using a genuine copy of the installation media. Your system will activate automatically by using the product key that was injected into the BIOS.
  • If your OEM has not injected your product key into the BIOS on your PC, then insert the installation media for Windows 7 and follow the on-screen instructions. Type the Windows 7 license key when asked and activate it as usual.

There is one more thing you should know before you downgrade. If you have downgraded from a pre-installed Windows 8 PC with Windows 7 PC, make sure you obtain the relevant drivers. Because according to the Microsoft downgrade rights agreement, in case you opt to downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7, neither Microsoft nor the PC manufacturer will be obliged to provide customer product support. This means you are on your own, so make sure you gather all the necessary drivers, Product keys etc. before you start the process.

For further information you can visit Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft has made things difficult. A better option would be to go for a clean install of Windows 7.

– With inputs from Shyam Sasindran & Hemant Saxena

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com and a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.