Taking A Step Back: Downgrading From Windows 8.1 To Windows 7

We were encouraged by the October release of Windows 8.1; it proved that Microsoft isn't completely severed from the reality that some people actually still use a mouse and keyboard. Further, we can think of at least eight reasons to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, mostly because Win8 can be made to look and behave more like Win7, and because the upgrade is easy to do.

However, if Windows 7 is an absolute requirement, then dressing up Windows 8.1 to look the part will never be more than second best. There's a solid business case for downgrading from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7. First, the user interface is substantially different between the two, and user productivity will fall sharply at first and could remain that way until training can be provided. Even after modification to the Win8 UI, longtime Windows 7 users must continue to make adjustments to their thinking and work habits when using Win8. For example, the Win7 Start Menu has been replaced by a Start screen (a.k.a Metro) and interface that's far less friendly to the mouse. Metro takes a good bit of getting used to.

Applications that run within Metro, which Microsoft now calls the "Modern UI," don't behave as Win7 apps do. They're available only through the Windows Store, and cannot be part of a migration to Windows 7. What's more, Metro's Live Tiles consume processor bandwidth.

Still not convinced that a Win8.1-to-Win7 downgrade is in order? Take a look at this list of 12 things that IT will hate about Windows 8 for a refresher course on UI annoyances. Some of these nits have been fixed, to be fair, but many of the biggest offenders on the list are still baked into Windows 8.1.

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When you're ready, the CRN Test Center provides detailed steps for how to downgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7. The process and licensing requirements are the same for Win8.1 as for Win8, and these steps are about as foolproof as they get.

In a nutshell, the first requirement is to know from which version of the two Windows 8 versions the downgrade will be coming. Windows 8 Pro permits a downgrade to Windows 7 (or Vista) without buying anything. The non-pro version of Windows 8 requires the purchase of a Windows 7 license. The steps for downgrading from Win8Pro and non-pro are otherwise the same. The whole process can be done in about an hour if everything goes smoothly.

When you're ready, proceed to the intro page to learn how to downgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7.