By Nerino Petro at 10 April, 2013, 10:23 am
Some folks are just not taking to Microsoft's new Windows 8 interface. In fact, many folks hate it and pine for Windows 7. Last week at ABA TECHSHOW 2013, several attendees during my sessions on Windows 8 asked if they could downgrade a Windows 8 computer to Windows 7. While the short answer is yes, you can generally downgrade to Windows 8, there are a number of caveats that go along with that. With fortuitous timing, the folks over at PCMag.com published How to Uninstall Windows 8, Install Windows 7 on Your PC this week.
The article does a great job explaining how you can downgrade to Windows 7 as well as the issues that you may encounter in the process. Availability of drivers for your hardware is one of the larger ones that you will encounter as many hardware manufacturers have not written Windows 7 drivers for hardware they have created for Windows 8. This can pose a challenge if you do not carefully check before you downgrade. According to the article:
Microsoft does offer downgrade rights, complete with support services and a clear downgrade path to Windows 7, but only for systems with Windows 8 Pro. If you've just got plain old Windows 8—and most mainstream systems do—you're on your own. Switching between the two operating systems is still very doable, but you'll be doing it without Microsoft's blessing.
Related to this, you may also run into trouble getting support from your manufacturer, as most do not provide legacy support for Windows 7 on systems that were factory-shipped with Windows 8. This extends to drivers. You'll need to do your homework as to what your devices are, what drivers they require, and whether or not there are Windows 7 drivers available. Unfortunately, this will vary from model to model, and even from one configuration to the next.
You will face other challenges including accessing your computer's BIOS (this is the basic input output system that controls things like the order of which device your computer boots from, whether your number lock is on by default, setting the date and time, etc. as it has been replaced by the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) and the article walks you through the process of doing so step by step here.
One of the challenges that you will face in downgrading to Windows 7 is that many of the computer manufacturers are not even making this an option. Rather, if you want Windows 7 you will need to make sure that the company offers the computer with Windows 7 installed when you buy it. Del for example stills ells a number of systems where you can purchase them with Windows 8 or a version of Windows 7. However, if you but it with Windows 8, they do not provide a downgrade path to Windows 7 (don't believe me, check out their forums.) This is despite Microsoft providing OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer's e.g. Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc.) the right to do so as explained here. This means that you will have to buy a new license of Windows 7 to downgrade.
So, if you really want to dump Windows 8 (I actually like it), this article from PCMag.com is a great place to start.