Knowledge Base

How to Downgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 7 Professional


Table of Contents:

  1. Before-You-Begin
  2. Create Windows 8 Pro Recovery Media
  3. Download Critical Drivers and Copy to a USB Key
  4. Changing System Setup Settings for Windows 7 Installation
  5. Install Windows 7 Professional
  6. Update Critical Drivers from USB Drive
  7. Update All Drivers from Dell Support Website

This article discusses the actions required to downgrade to Windows 7 Professional Edition on a system shipped with factory-installed Windows 8 Pro.


These instructions are specifically provided for customers who purchased systems pre-installed with Windows 8 Pro who wish to downgrade their operating system to Windows 7 Professional. Other versions of Windows 8 are not eligible to downgrade to Windows 7. While the Windows 8 Pro license allows for a downgrade to Windows 7, there is no assurance that Windows 7 drivers will be available either from Dell or the component manufacturer. Systems on this list were available with a Windows 8 Pro purchase option, Windows 7 drivers may not be available.

The following table lists systems authorized to downgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 7 Pro:

Vostro Inspiron XPS Latitude OptiPlex Precision
Vostro NB 3360 Inspiron 5737 XPS 14 (L421x) Latitude E6230 OptiPlex 9010 Precision M4700
Vostro NB 3460 Inspiron 5721 XPS 15 (L521x) Latitude E6330 OptiPlex 7010 Precision M6700
Vostro NB 3560 Inspiron 5537 XPS 2710 AIO Latitude E6430 OptiPlex 9010 AIO Precision R7610
Vostro NB 2420 Inspiron 5523 XPS 8500 Latitude E6430 ATG OptiPlex 3010 Precision M4800
Vostro NB 2520 Inspiron 5521 XPS 13 (L322x) Latitude E6430s OptiPlex 9020 Precision M6800
Vostro MT 470 Inspiron 5437/3437 XPS 2720 AIO Latitude E6530 OptiPlex 9020 AIO  
Vostro DT 270s Inspiron 5423/3423 XPS 12 (9Q33) Latitude E5430 OptiPlex 3011 AIO  
Vostro DT 270 Inspiron 5421/3421 XPS 8700 MT Latitude E5430V    
  Inspiron 3737/3537   Latitude E5530    
  Inspiron 3721/3521   Latitude E5530V    
  Inspiron DT 660s   Latitude 6430U    
  Inspiron MT 660   Latitude E7240 (Latitude 12 7000)    
  Inspiron One 2330 AIO   Latitude E7440
(Latitude 14 7000)
   
  Inspiron One 2020 AIO   Latitude 3330    

Table 1 - List of Dell computer models that ship with Windows 8 Pro


Before You Begin

The following materials are recommended when you downgrade your computer from Windows 8 Professional Edition to Windows 7 Professional Edition:

  • Check to ensure that Windows 7 drivers are available for required components
  • Up to four (4) writeable DVDs (DVD+R or DVD-R) OR one 16GB USB Key
  • Windows 7 Professional installation media (DVD or USB key)
  • USB Key for critical drivers (64MB or larger)

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Create Windows 8 Pro Recovery Media

Before starting the downgrade process, create your recovery media for Windows 8 Pro. You want to return to the factory-installed operating system at a later date. To create your restore media for Windows 8 Professional Edition, follow these steps:

Notice Creation of recovery media requires up to 16GB of space on a USB memory key or up to FOUR (4) DVD+R or DVD-R discs. Do not use a USB key that already contains data, as the drive will be formatted and all data will be destroyed in the process.

  1. At the Windows Start Screen, swipe in from the right side of the screen (if using a mouse, hover your cursor in either right corner of the screen) to open your Charms bar (Or press Windows Key + C).
     
  2. In the Search Charm, under Apps, type Backup and select Dell Backup and Recovery.
     
  3. Read the Dell Backup and Recovery End-User Opt-In Agreements and choose your preferred option about updates to the program and history tracking your computer's Service Tag ticking the appropriate check boxes. Select Next to continue.
     
  4. Select the Recovery Media tile.
     
  5. Select the type of media you want to create your backup of Windows 8 Pro, either USB Key or Discs
     
  6. Insert a USB key or DVD disc into the computer. Dell Backup and Recovery will identify the drive and you will see a green checkbox if the media is sized correctly for the recovery media.
     
  7. Select the drive and then select Start, then select Yes at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
     
  8. The application will create the recovery media. You may need to change discs several times if you are using DVD backup.
     
  9. Once the recovery media is created, select OK to exit the application.

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Download Critical Drivers and Copy to a USB Key

Prior to installing Windows 7 Professional, visit the Dell Drivers and Downloads website to download critical driver packages that will let you get online and return to the Dell website to install the rest of your hardware drivers. The following Windows 7 drivers are considered critical and must be downloaded:

  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver
  • Wireless or Local Area Network (LAN) driver
Systems that use AMD processors will not have a Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver. You may need to download an applicable AMD storage driver.

 

Many Dell system models have Dell Driver Packs. These Driver Packs (.CAB files) allow users with imaging expertise the ability to load all drivers during the imaging process.

Once these driver files are downloaded, run the downloaded executable files (.exe) to extract the files. Be sure to select the USB key as the destination for the files. Do not continue the driver installation beyond the file extraction. The extracted files may (Depending on the system model) be needed during the installation of Windows 7 Professional.

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Change System Setup Settings for Windows 7 Installation

Dell System Setup configuration changes that are required are as follows for the successful installation of Windows 7 Professional include:

  • If a SECURE BOOT option exists in the system setup, it must be DISABLED.
  • Change the BOOT OPTION from UEFI to LEGACY
  • Some systems have an advanced boot option LEGACY OPTION ROM setting, this must be ENABLED.

To access the System Setup on your Dell computer, you must enable an advanced startup mode. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen, Press Windows Start Key+C or hover your mouse pointer in the top/bottom right corner of the screen and drag down/up to bring up the Charms menu.
     
  2. Select Settings, then select Change PC Settings.
     
  3. Select the General tab.
     
  4. Under the Advanced Startup section, select Restart Now.

 

When the computer restarts, it will enter an advanced options menu. Proceed with these steps to enter your System Setup:

  1. Select Troubleshoot.
     
  2. Select UEFI Firmware Settings.
     
  3. Select Restart. The computer will restart again, and this time it will enter the System Setup.

The computer will restart again, and this time it will enter the System BIOS. Locate the setting for Secure Boot, and change it from Enabled to Disabled. Save your changes and exit the System BIOS.

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Install Windows 7 Professional

During the process of installing Windows 7 Professional, removal of the Windows 8 partitions is required (Windows 7 cannot be installed on Windows 8 GPT partitions).

To install Windows 7 Professional on your computer. Perform the following steps:

Power on the system and watch for the Dell logo to appear. When the Dell logo appears, press the F12 key to load the Boot Menu. If the menu does not appear, restart the system and F12 several times at the Dell logo screen. When the Boot Menu appears, highlight the CD/DVD drive (listed as "CDROM", "CD/DVD" or "CD/DVD/CD-RW") entry from the list and press Enter.

 

Users are cautioned to use extreme care in choosing the partition to delete and ensure that it the correct partition. Failure to do so may cause unrecoverable data loss. If you do not feel comfortable with this process, it is recommended you contact Dell Support or if you desire, a local technical professional.

 

  1. Boot to your Windows 7 media using one of the following methods:

    DVD Media

    Insert the Windows 7 Professional DVD into the DVD drive, and then shurdown your computer. When you restart the system, watch for the message Press any key to boot from the CD or DVD ... then press the spacebar or any of the other keys on the keyboard to continue booting to the DVD.

    USB Media

    Insert the USB key into an available USB port and restart the computer. At the Dell logo screen, press the F12 key once (You should hear a beep and see Selective Boot Selected or such in the upper right of the screen). Select USB Flash Drive and press the Enter key.

  2. After the Windows 7 Setup loads, confirm the Language, Time, Currency and Keyboard Method settings are correct then click Next.
     
  3. Press the SHIFT + F10 key combination to open a command window. (We will continue the installation of Windows 7 after removing the Windows 8 partitions.)
     
  4. Type DISKPART then press the Enterkey. (A prompt may appear: "Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?". If this appears, select Yes.)
     
  5. Type: List Disk then press the Enterkey. This will list the disks in the system. (Depending on the system configuration, you may have more than one hard drive available. Take care in choosing the correct drive based on the size and other information you may have available. In most cases you will choose drive Zero "0".)
     
  6. Type "Select Disk #"then press the Enter key. (# should correspond with the drive number you are installing Windows on.)
     
  7. Once you have selected the disk, then type: clean then press the Enter key.
     
  8. Type: List Partition then press the Enter key, and confirm that the partitions have been deleted.
     
  9. Type: Exit then press the Enter key to exit diskpart. (This should close the command window and return you to the Windows 7 installation screen.)
     
  10. On the Windows 7 Installation page, click Install Now.
     
  11. Review the terms and click I accept the license terms to proceed.
     
  12. On the Which type of installation do you want? window, click Normal.

     
    If the hard drive in your computer cannot be found, you may need to install the Intel Rapid Storage Technology or other hard disk drive controller driver (PERC H310/H810 etc.) from the USB key you previously created for this installation. See the LOAD DRIVER section at the bottom of the Windows 7 install screen to load the drive controller driver.

     

    Your computer will restart several times during installation.

     

  13. Once you have personalized your Windows 7 system and completed the Windows 7 Setup, you will be at the Windows desktop.
     
  14. If you are using Dell-branded Windows 7 Professional media, Windows 7 Professional will automatically activate on Dell computers that ship with a valid Windows operating system, and a Windows 7 Professional Certificate of Authenticity will not be provided. If you are using Microsoft retail media, you will need to activate your copy of Windows using the Windows Product Key that can be found on the Certificate of Authenticity that was shipped with the media.

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Update Critical Drivers from USB Drive

Using the files created during Step 2, install the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver and the Wireless or LAN driver for your computer. With these installed, you will be able to access the Internet and download the rest of your computer's drivers.

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Update All Drivers from Dell Support Website

Visit the Dell Drivers and Downloads website to download drivers for your computer hardware. Input your computer Service Tag, or automatically detect your system to get a list of specific drivers needed for your computer.

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Article ID: SLN116104

Last Date Modified: 09/03/2014 03:30 PM


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