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How to Downgrade Preinstalled Windows 10 to Windows 7/8.1

Microsoft hopes to have Windows 10 running on 1 billion systems within three years. An admirable goal, but one that does not take into account the requirements of the user. Windows 10 shares a lot in common with Windows 8.1; it is a smooth experience upgrading from that release. For Windows 7 users, the story might be a little different. Some older applications just work better with the older versions. If you purchase a new PC today, it likely will have Windows 10 preinstalled. Users still have an option, though, which is the ability to downgrade the installation to an older version of Windows, such as Windows 7 or even Windows 8.1.

Important Note: This is a different process than rolling your Windows 10 upgrade back to the previous version. When you upgrade Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10, you have a 30-day window where you can roll it back to the previous version and not lose any of your data. For more on rolling back, check out one of these following articles:

Prerequisite Tasks you should Complete

Downgrading is an involved process; I strongly recommend you have everything in place before you start this project, such as:

  • The copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 you want to downgrade. If you don’t have a license, you will have purchase a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license. If your system came preinstalled with Windows 10 Pro, you’d need to download or borrow a Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro disc.
  • A product key from a computer that is running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro. If you are exercising downgrade rights from Windows 10 Pro OEM, this key can be either a retail upgrade, full version, OEM preinstalled, or System Builder product key.
  • Necessary hardware drivers for either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
  • External hard disk to back up your Windows 10 installation.
  • Have a copy of your Windows 10 Pro OEM product key available, just in case Microsoft support needs to verify it during activation. Here is how you can find it. Please note, this is for OEM preinstalled Windows 10 Pro licenses only.

Press Windows key + X then click Command Prompt (Admin), at the command prompt, type the following command, then hit Enter on your keyboard.

wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey

Other Options you should Consider Before Downgrading

For computers upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, a limited option is available within 30 days to rollback to your previous version. If your upgrade to Windows 10 is more than a month old, then a manual downgrade will have to be done. If your computer came with recovery media, consult the documentation for instructions on how to reinstall Windows 7 or Windows 8 on your computer.

If you recently purchased a new computer, preinstalled with Windows 10, only to find out it does not work with your hardware or software, or you just don’t like it, then you might want to consider returning the computer. The hassle associated with actually downgrading is not as convenient and smooth sailing as you might believe.

Also, there remains a demand for systems with older versions of Windows, which is what you might prefer. Most OEM vendors such as DELL, HP, and Lenovo offer new model systems with a choice of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. If your computer is still within its warranty period, then I suggest you take advantage of it, and purchase an appropriate system preinstalled with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Microsoft made available, a list of vendors who are providing a selection of Windows 7/8.1 systems with support for Intel’s latest CPU architecture, Skylake. Microsoft recently announced plans to limit Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 support for future revisions of Skylake. This would make now an opportune time to upgrade to a new PC while they are available. Within a year’s time, Microsoft will only focus on supporting Windows 10 on future processor technology.
Next: Downgrade Preinstalled Windows 10

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14 Responses to How to Downgrade Preinstalled Windows 10 to Windows 7/8.1

  1. naveed butt June 23, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

    I realy like your post with boost of information, But I have a windows 8.1 professional product key, Purchased from: http//cheaproduct.com
    I just installed windows 8.1 professional at my laptop, But not know how to activate using the activation key code.
    Can I upgrade it to Windows 10 to get more features. Thanks in advance

    • Andre Da Costa June 26, 2016 at 8:21 am #

      Dear Mr Butts,

      Yes you can

      -Andre

  2. Pete June 30, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    I have a HP Windows 10 machine. I have a install copy of window 7. When I try to install windows 7 I cannot get it to load the usb drivers so I cannot get my mouse and keyboard to function. But my windows 10 disk will. How do I over come this problem?

    • Richard August 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

      make sure you have the keyboard and mouse plugged into the usb ports on the back, not the front ones with cables. make sure your not plugging them into usb3 ports either, as the drivers do need to load before it works.

  3. Marmi September 7, 2016 at 7:00 am #

    This is probably because you have Intel Skylake (6xxx series) processor in your HP. Windows 7 doesn’t support newer USB mode just after install and Skylake procesors doesn’t support older USB mode as far as I know.
    In this case there is a problem, but you can:
    -download appropriate Win7 patch on another computer, connect your disk to that computer and copy, then install it on your computer or
    -prepare installation disk with patch included using software like nlite
    Also search Internet for how to install Win7 on Skylake processor.

  4. Bill September 12, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    I am an NGO based in the US but all work is done in Tanzania, Africa. We bought 4 new dell computers with Windows 10 unknowingly. I was not apart of the procurement process. The computers are now here with me and we want to take them to windows 7. Windows 10 in our opinion is garbage. Microsoft needs to stop trying to be Apple and leave Apps alone. If we want apps we will go with Apple products.

    Back to my problem. I read that I should return these computers and get new ones with Windows 7 but that is not an option. Please send me directions on setting these up on Windows 7.

    • Linda December 10, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Totally agree with you about try to be apple part!!! A lot of computer users are professional, those apps are good for Ipad or Iphone, but I do not want my computer acting as ipad or iphone. I already have a iphone in my pocket and I do not need another one on my desk.

  5. Monalisa B. Castillo September 30, 2016 at 12:43 am #

    Hi, I have an pre installed os ( win 10 pro downgraded to win 7 ) .. when i got the item it was already downgraded to Win 7 .. Can i revert it back to Win 10 without any cost? how??
    Thanks for your help

  6. Taylor October 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    So I have windows 10 Pro which came with my laptop and I am planning on downgrading back to windows 7 if I do this will I be able to upgrade back to windows 10 in the future?

    • Steve Krause October 17, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Yes – Once running windows 10, you have that license for the life of the device.

  7. Shawn November 28, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    I’m considering buying a HP Envy 17t as it’s cyber monday today. Do you recommend downgrading to win7 or am I going to have driver issues and future problems with software? What is the chance that I could do it without problem? I’d rather keep my current computer than upgrade and have to use win10.
    Thank You for the great article!

  8. Me December 10, 2016 at 7:02 am #

    The best is to downgad to windows 8.1 and install a free software called CLASSIC SHELL

    http://www.classicshell.net/

    This will make Windows 8.1 look like Windows 7 but work like windows 8. what is far far better tahn windows 10 or 7.
    The read Tweakhound 8.1 and you are set.

    https://tweakhound.com/2013/10/22/tweaking-windows-8-1/

    Better if you make a partition of C: first. This is the only useful use of your preinstalled windows 10.

    This is the best alternative. Period.

  9. Sherry Bovinet December 23, 2016 at 7:54 am #

    My Windows 10 will not allow legacy boot without the legacy rom so I get an error, ‘No drivers found foe CD/DVD Drive” and it won’t start Windows 7 without them. So no luck so far.

  10. András Káldor January 22, 2017 at 1:41 am #

    Sorry to tell you, but in case of Downgrade you don’t have to purchase any additional license. This is “Downgrade”, if you purchase Win7 license beside preinstalled OEM Win10 it is not downgrade 🙂

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