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Downgrading from Windows 8 to 7: What you need to know

Ian Paul | Nov. 21, 2012
For all the talk about the advantages of Windows 8 over Windows 7, some people just can't get past Windows 8's radical shift in user interface.

Consumers, on the other hand, usually want to dump Windows 8 because they simply don't like the new OS. The Nielsen Norman Group found consumers' main gripe with Windows 8 is the dual nature of the system, which combines desktop and touch-friendly environments in an oftentimes confusing melange. Not only is the user interface inconsistent, it also requires users to remember where to go for which features, and to waste time switching between interfaces.

You need to really want it

If you already know that you're going to downgrade to Windows 7, you could save yourself some grief and buy a new Windows 7 PC. First, just because you have the right to downgrade a Windows 8 Pro machine to Windows 7 doesn't mean running the older OS on newer hardware will be problem-free. HP, for example, warns that it hasn't tested all of its Windows 8 hardware with Windows 7. So the company says there's no guarantee you'll be able to download the drivers you need to run your Windows 7 system properly.

Second, even though Microsoft and its partners are pushing Windows 8, you can still find Windows 7 machines for sale on Amazon, Best Buy, and Dell, to name a few locations. Amazon, for example, is selling a limited number of 15.6-inch Samsung laptops featuring a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i3-2370M processor, 6GB RAM, a 750 GB HDD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium for $500.

Best Buy has a 14-inch Asus laptop with a 2.3Ghz Intel Pentium processor, 4GB RAM, a 320GB HDD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium for $300. You can find comparable Windows 8 machines for around $100 to $200 more. So you will also save a bit of money if you purchase a Windows 7 machine instead of Windows 8. Also, if you buy a Windows 7 machine before January 31, 2013, you have until February 28 to purchase a Windows 8 upgrade for $15.

Here's the bottom line taking pricing and installation headaches into consideration: As long as Windows 7 is available on new PCs, buying a Windows 8 Pro machine with downgrade rights really only makes sense if you plan on returning to Windows 8 at a later date. That way, you'll have hardware built for the new version of Windows such as a convertible laptop or an all-in-one desktop PC with a touchscreen.

It's also important to note that you cannot downgrade to Windows 7 after buying a Windows 8 Pro upgrade for an old Vista or Windows XP machine. Your only possible downgrade path in that situation is to reinstall the original OS that came with your PC, as long as you still have your old system discs that is.

 

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