How to downgrade Windows 8.1 to Windows 7 Pro

What's the best and easiest way to downgrade an already running laptop with applications installed and data on it to Windows 7 Pro ?
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
If it's the Metro user interface that's bothering you, you may want to consider installing the excellent (and free!) Classic Shell before reverting back to W7:

The core of W8.1 is very solid — it's just the user interface that many folks don't like.

I not only don't like the W8 interface, I don't like the W7/Vista interface, so I've been using Classic Shell to give me the good old W2K (truly Classic!) interface on all of my Vista, W7, and W8/8.1 computers. Of course, if you prefer, you may configure Classic Shell to give you the W7 interface.

Here's a 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial that explains how to download, install, and configure Classic Shell — all of which happens in the 5-minute video, although you may want to spend another 10-15 minutes configuring its large number of options:
Make Windows 8 Look Like Earlier Versions of Windows with Classic Shell

You may configure it to boot straight into the normal desktop that you're familiar with and it will look just like W7. Regards, Joe
You can't. The downgrade means you have to do a clean install of Windows 7. Besides that, if you are using the core version of Windows 8.x (which corresponds to the home versions of Windows 7), you don't have the free downgrade rights. That is only available for Windows 8.x pro or ultimate.

But why don't you rather upgrade to Windows 10? It is much better than Windows 8.x, and as long as your Windows 8.x license isn't a Volume License or licensed via KMS, you should be entitled to a free upgrade. The upgrade will keep all your programs intact, as long as they are compatible with Windows 10. The upgrade also backs up your previous OS and you can return to it for as long as 30 days.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The system should be new enough to get a good upgrade to Windows 10. I did that and everything is intact. So it is a good way to go.

As rindi notes, to downgrade you must reinstall and that leaves you with an old operating system now past end of regular life. Time clock is ticking.

I have an article on upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
If you do go with Windows 10, you should be aware of its new peer-to-peer updating feature called Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO). Here's an EE article that explains how to disable it:
Windows 10 uses YOUR computer to help distribute itself

Neither W7 nor W8.1 has it — just W10. Regards, Joe
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