Downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7

On a computer that was purchased with the OEM version of Windows 8 Pro on it, what are the options for downgrading to Windows 7?

Blog and Forum posts like these have some info but they gloss over the most important part - actually DOING the downgrade:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2015107/downgrading-from-windows-8-to-7-what-you-need-to-know.html
http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/13326-downgrade-windows-8-windows-7-a.html

Both of the above websites seem to suggest that the process for doing a downgrade is to prep your BIOS accordingly, then blow away the existing Windows 8 installation and re-install Windows 7 from scratch.

Is this the only way to go about doing it? Or does Microsoft have any "soft" downgrade option that is a bit more user friendly and will allow them to keep their settings / files / programs automagically?

Second question - when downgrading from Windows 8, what version of Windows 7 are you allowed to downgrade to? Home Premium? Pro? Ultimate?
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Frosty555Asked:
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Downgrading requires a clean install of W7 (there is not an Anytime or In-Place 'Downgrade').

Downgrading is for Windows 8 Pro only (not the non-Pro version) and can downgrade only to Windows 7 Professional.

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
And while you can ask the OEM for media, they are NOT obligated to provide it.  You may need to provide the Windows 7 Pro media (ANY media SHOULD work though you may have to call MS and explain you are using downgrade rights if there are any activation issues).
Frosty555Author Commented:
PowerEdgeTech - sounds like you might have done this before. Can you tell me - when you do the clean install Windows 7, what product key do you enter during setup? Do you enter the Windows 8 key into the box? Will it accept that?
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Sushil SonawaneCommented:
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Keys are specific to the OS - You cannot use a Windows 8 key for a Windows 7 system, you must use a Windows 7 key.
Frosty555Author Commented:
Hi Leew - I guess I'm not following. How can you activate Windows 7 then after doing the install? The idea behind the downgrade rights is that your Windows 8 Pro OEM license somehow entitles you to use a Windows 7 installation, isn't that right?

If a customer posesses:

    - Laptop that came with Windows 8 Pro OEM
    - Windows 8 Pro OEM CoA sticker
    - A Windows 7 Professional OEM installation media
    - NO license key for Windows 7

Is the above insufficient for them to successfully get Windows 7 up and running and activated on the laptop?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The OEM's obligation ended with including the OS and the key to activate the included OS.

You can ASK the OEM if they will provide (likely for a relatively small additional fee) a copy of Windows 7 Pro and key for downgrade purposes - they are NOT obligated to give it to you and likely, they are too big to care if you scream and complain you'll never buy their product again.

If you wish to exercise your downgrade rights YOU must provide a Windows 7 Pro DVD AND KEY YOURSELF to exercise that right.  If they don't provide you with the media, why should they provide you with a key that works for Windows 7?

You SHOULD be able to use the key that came with the media, EVEN if you've used it before.  If you have activation problems, you should be able to call MS and request help activating if you explain you are exercising downgrade rights.  Depending who answers and how well trained they are, you may have to call back and/or ask to speak with a supervisor.  (Be polite - these people are just doing what they are (potentially poorly) trained to do... yelling at them won't endear you to them and they won't want to go the extra little bit that might actually resolve your issue... no promises they will anyway, but they definitely won't want to if you yell at them as if they were the ones that made the rules).
Frosty555Author Commented:
Understood - the OEM washes their hands of you as soon as you decide to not use the intended OS. I understand that.

So the process seems to be that you source your own Win7 installation media and an old Win7 license key (preferably the license key that came with your installation media). Install Windows 7 like normal, and then when activation fails you go through the phone activation system and talk to a support rep to have them manually activate your installation, citing downgrade rights to your existing Windows 8 Pro license.

Man that's clumsy.... but I suppose Microsoft really doesn't want people to downgrade ;)

BTW that seems to line up with the article that Sushilb84 posted. (Q. Will the downgraded software require product activation? If so, what product key should be used to activate the software? )
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Yep, that's the process as I know it.
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Sorry ... no I have not done this first-hand (although I have a system coming I will get to experiment with before delivering it to a client next week) ... my understanding of the process lines up to how it has been described thus far, but I will post back with what I find first-hand, if you are interested.  I also hear that systems are not shipping with actual Windows 8 COA's because the Product Key now resides in the BIOS.
ComputerGeekJsyCommented:
I've just done exactly this on 6 HP Pro3500 Desktop machines.  Process to follow (if you want to get the Windows 8 Keys first):

Boot the machine to Windows 8, and setup with a temp account.

Download and run belarc advisor from here:

http://www.belarc.com/Programs/advisorinstaller.exe

You can then see your Windows 8 Key for future reference.

In the system UEFI/BIOS, disable Secure Boot, and enable legacy boot devices (DVD, USB, etc).

Boot from Windows 7 media, and run the setup like normal.  Delete ALL of the partitions on the HDD and setup partition(s) for Windows 7 you require.

You WILL NOT require a Licence Key during the installation of Windows 7 so you can install, patch, etc prior to going through the downgrade rights licence process.

When you're happy all is good, go to System Properties and click on Activate Windows. The option to call Microsoft is on there (for the UK it's 0800 018 8354) and you can go through the process with the Microsoft rep.

Good luck!
nobusCommented:
maybe a bit off topic - but why not try UBUNTU?
free, and easy to use and install :  http://www.ubuntu.com/

***and it does the same windows does...
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Your personal preference for an OS is a little off-topic and not really an answer to his question.  Switching to Ubuntu is no different from telling him to keep Windows 8 ... it doesn't answer his question - it avoids it - and is better left unsaid ... don't you think?
nobusCommented:
i prefer an answer from the asker
your opinion is yours, just like mine
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Don't get worked up.  Just sayin' ...
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