How do I remove Windows 8 Release Preview and return to Windows 7?

I installed the Windows 8 Release  Preview yesterday directly from the Microsoft website. It is too much for me to get used to right now and I would really like to return to Windows 7 Home Premium which came installed on my laptop when I purchased it. I installed Windows 8 onto my C Drive which I assume is where windows 7 was installed. I tried going into startup and recovery settings to select windows 7 as my default operating system but windows 8 is the only option available. Also, the only recovery point available is after i had already installed windows 8. Please help. Is there any way to get back to Windows 7? Or am I simply out of luck... 

How to restore Windows 7, Vista or Windows XP

If you have a Windows.old folder at the root of the drive where Windows 8 was installed, you could try uninstalling Windows 8 using that folder. See the follow articles for instructions. They reference Windows 7, but the same principles apply when using Windows 8:

How to uninstall Windows using the Windows.old folder:

If there is no Windows.old folder there then that means you did a clean install.

If you have any critical data on the drive, try backing up manually to a external hard disk using copy and paste.

If you don't have any installation media, you can download a copy from the following link that corresponds with the edition of Windows 7 you download. You will need to have your Windows 7 product key ready to do the installation.

If Windows 7 came preinstalled on your computer, the product key should be attached to a COA sticker at the bottom of your computer (if its a laptop) or the top or side if its a desktop computer. If its a retail upgrade or full version package, check the Windows 7 package.

If you downloaded it from the Microsoft Store:

Find your Product Key if your purchased from Microsoft Store:

COA Certificate of Authenticity:


What is the Windows Certificate of Authenticity?

Windows 7 (English) with Service Pack 1

Windows 7 Home Premium (x86) - X17-58996

Windows 7 Home Premium (x64) - X17-58997

Windows 7 Professional (x86) - X17-59183

Windows 7 Professional (x64) - X17-59186

Windows 7 Ultimate (x86)* - X17-59463

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)* - X17-59465


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.

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


Boot from the Windows 7 DVD
Click Install Now
Accept License Agreement
When the option is displayed to select an installation type, click (Custom Advanced)

select the disk partition where you would like to install Windows 7 Click Next.

You will receive the following warning:

The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows.

(At all cost, do NOT click anything named Format or Delete or Partition. So even doing a custom install, your personal files are still preserved. Click OK

Setup will now start the installation. During the installation, your machine will be restarted several times.

When the installation is complete, you can complete the Out of Box experience such as selecting your laptop, create a username, password, your time zone. You can then proceed to download the latest updates for Windows and reinstall your applications and drivers.

You can then recover your personal files from the Windows.old folder and reinstall all your applications and drivers.

Windows Insider MVP
MVP-Windows and Devices for IT

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.


Question Info

Last updated September 22, 2013 Views 113 Applies to: