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).
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.
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
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