How do I get back to Windows 7?

Hi. I had windows 7 OEM and upgraded to Windows 8, now I can't use key software and need to downgrade. But I don't have the windows 7 disks. What do I do?
 

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Last updated November 1, 2018 Views 8,236 Applies to:
Answer

Doing a Custom Install

Using the custom install option allows you to reinstall your original copy of Windows while preserving your personal data by moving it to the Windows.old folder. Of course, you will need to reinstall your applications and hardware drivers. To begin, retrieve your installation disc for your copy of Windows and make sure you have the product key.

  • Boot to the Windows 8 desktop.
  • Insert your Windows 7, Vista or XP disc
  • Click Install Now (Windows XP users, please restart from the installation or recovery disc).

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, see the following tutorial:
http://notebooks.com/2011/05/05/how-to-load-bios-and-change-boot-configuration/

If you have an RTM disc

If you have the original RTM disc for Windows 7 or Vista, you can download an updated disc with Windows 7 SP1 or Vista SP1 integrated. This should at least take some of the load off when it comes installing post SP1 updates or Service Pack 2 for Vista.

Download the corresponding edition of Windows 7 you have a license for from the following link. You can identify the edition on the COA sticker attached to your machine, at the bottom or within the battery compartment (laptop) or top/side if its a desktop computer.
COA Certificate of Authenticity:
http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/content.aspx?pg=coa
What is the Windows Certificate of Authenticity?
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-is-the-Windows-Certificate-of-Authenticity

Windows Vista SP1:

(The above Windows Vista image allows you to install the appropriate edition by having the appropriate key).

32 vs 64 bit
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/32-bit-and-64-bit-Windows-frequently-asked-questions
Is my PC running the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows?
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/find-out-32-or-64-bit
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Installing-and-reinstalling-Windows-7

ImgBurn – In addtion to supporting the creation of CD’s from .ISO files,
it supports a wide range of other image file formats, and it’s free.
(BIN, CUE, DI, DVD, GI, IMG, MDS, NRG, PDI and ISO)
http://www.imgburn.com/
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/G/Burning+ISO+Images+with+ImgBurn

Note: Always use the slowest burn speed (4x or 2x) if offered a choice.

Unfortunately, Windows XP users will need to get a hold of a genuine copy of Windows XP with SP3 disc. It should not be hard to get one, but will require that you look for one if you can’t find yours.

If Windows came preinstalled on your computer.

If Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 came with your computer, this might be a bit tricky depending on the version of Windows you are running and the options you selected during the installation of the Windows 8 preview. I have noticed that installing later versions of Windows can sometimes render a recovery partition inoperable.

Some computers that come preinstalled with Windows often have what is called a recovery partition. This is used to reinstall the operating system in the event of a system crash. To access it, you will need to boot into it when you start your computer by pressing a function key. This can be either F1, F2, F9, F10, F11, F12 or even DEL or Tab key. Consult the owners manual that came with your PC for instructions about how to reinstall Windows.

This is how the recovery partition is accessed for the most popular computer brands:

  • For Dell, press CTRL + F11 directly after powering up the unit.
  • For HP, press F11 directly after powering up the unit
  • For Toshiba, press and hold ’0′ BEFORE and during the power up
  • For Acer, press and hold ALT + F10 as soon as you see the logo.
  • For Samsung: Tap the F4 Key at the Samsung logo when you first power on.
  • For Asus, press F9 as soon as you see the Asus logo.
  • For Advent, restart your computer. Then Press F10 repeatedly until the message “Starting System Recovery” is displayed
  • Lenovo http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-4HWSE3
    Lenovo notebooks include a feature called the Lenovo OneKey Recovery button, which is used to boot into the Recovery Environment and reinstall Windows.

If your recovery partition happens to be damaged, then you will need to use the link to download the corresponding edition of Windows you have a license for and use the product on you COA sticker. Again, Windows XP users will need to borrow a disc or likely use the recovery discs that came with your system.

Doing the Custom Install

A custom install allows you to reinstall Windows without actually formatting the hard disk.

You can Start the installation from within Windows 8 preview. Click Install Now.

Wait while setup copies files.

Select the option ‘Do not get latest updates for installation

Accept the license agreement, then click Next

Click Custom (Advanced)

Select drive C:\ where Windows 8 installed.

An important warning will appear on screen, click OK

Windows will now begin the installation process.

When installation is complete, setup your user account and password.

Recovering your personal files

Now the important part of doing this will be recovering your personal files. To do that, browse to the root of the drive where Windows is installed, normally C:\. There you will see a folder called Windows.old

In this folder you will find your old User folder with all your personal folders for Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos etc. You can copy the contents from within each folder and paste them into your respective personal folders in Windows 7.

After you have copied over your data, you can delete the folder if you wish. This is just the basics though and you might have other data stored elsewhere that you need to recover from the Windows.old folder such as email or even your iTunes Library.

Best,
Andre
Windows Insider MVP
MVP-Windows and Devices for IT
twitter/adacosta
groovypost.com

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