The Professional edition of Windows 8 comes with “downgrade rights.” If you’re not happy with Windows 8 on a new computer, you can downgrade it to Windows 7 for free – as long as you have Windows 8 Pro.
This isn’t as easy as it should be: Microsoft designed this procedure for businesses, and individual users will have to jump through a number of hoops to downgrade their Windows 8 Pro systems.
Downgrade Rights vs. Other Ways to Downgrade
This article is about exercising downgrade rights on a computer that comes with Windows 8 Pro. Downgrading to Windows 7 is simpler in other situations:
If your computer came with Windows 7 and you upgraded it to Windows 8, you can revert your computer to the Windows 7 system it came with.
If you have a retail copy of Windows 7 you aren’t using, you can install it on a new computer that came with Windows 8. (Ensure the new computer has hardware drivers that work with Windows 7.)
How Downgrade Rights Work
Downgrade rights are intended for businesses. When buying new computers, businesses purchase computers that come preloaded with Windows 8 licenses and install a previous version of Windows without buying separate licenses.
Downgrade rights can be a bit confusing. Here’s how they work:
Downgrade rights are only available on computers that come with Windows 8 Pro
. Upgrade copies of Windows 8 Pro don’t include downgrade rights, so you can’t purchase the Windows 8 Pro Pack to get downgrade rights.
You can only downgrade to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business, not Windows XP
. (For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume you probably want to downgrade to Windows 7.)
After downgrading, you can reinstall Windows 8 at any time.