An understanding of both your Microsoft Windows downgrade rights and downgrading from Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

An understanding of both your Microsoft Windows downgrade rights and downgrading from Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

This article provides information about Microsoft Windows Downgrade Rights and how to go about downgrading from Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 on a Dell PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. What are Downgrade Rights?
  2. Understanding your Microsoft Windows Downgrade Rights
  3. Downgrade Guides

What are Downgrade Rights?

Downgrade Rights are where end users who have acquired the Latest Version of some kind of software can use an earlier version of that same software, until they are ready to migrate to the later version of the Software/Technology.

In most new versions of Windows Operating Systems (OS), there is no option to Rollback to an earlier version. So knowing your rights in these matters can be of use.

Note: After downgrading, you can reinstall Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 at any time.

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Understanding your Microsoft Windows Downgrade Rights

Understanding downgrade rights

Note: the information on this page is intended for system builders and their customers. If you are a customer of a direct OEM, please contact your OEM for more information about downgrade rights. If you are a direct OEM, please contact your Microsoft Account Manager.

Downgrade rights are an end-user right that Microsoft offers to customers for certain OEM products which meet the technical requirements for a Windows software downgrade. Downgrade rights are documented in the Microsoft Software License Terms that customers accept upon first running Windows and Windows Server software. Thanks to downgrade rights, if you have acquired a later version of the software (such as Windows 10 Pro) you can use an earlier version of the software (such as Windows 8.1 Pro) until they are ready to migrate to a later version.

If a product includes downgrade rights, the license terms for that product will indicate which earlier versions of the software may be used.

Downgrade rights for Windows software

The following OEM versions of Windows software are eligible for downgrade rights.

Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7
Windows 10 Pro Includes downgrade rights to :
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Windows 7 Professional
Windows 8.1 Pro includes downgrade rights to :
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows Vista Business
Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate include downgrade rights to :
  • Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or Windows XP x64 Edition
Note: Other OEM Windows 7 versions (for example, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium) do not include downgrade rights.

Steps for an end user to downgrade Windows software

To downgrade Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 software, you must :

  1. Purchase a PC installed with Windows software.

  2. Accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.

  3. Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product.

The downgrade process

Follow these steps to downgrade to an earlier version of Windows software:

  1. Use genuine Windows media and a corresponding product key for the version of Windows that is eligible for downgrade. The media/key should come from a previously licensed product from the OEM or retail channel.

  2. If you are licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) you may provide your VL media and key to a system builder to facilitate the downgrade on your own systems.

  3. Insert the downgrade-eligible version of Windows media and follow the installation instructions.

  4. Enter the product key (If using Non-OEM Media.).

  5. If the software was previously activated, it cannot be activated online. In this case, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed. Call the number and explain the circumstances. When it is determined that you have an eligible Windows license, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code to activate the software. Please note that Microsoft does not provide a full product key in this scenario.

  6. Activate the software.

  7. For scenarios involving large volume downgrades, it's recommended that you consider VL which provides the benefits of reimaging rights and volume activation, which can make the process of downgrading much easier.

Authorizing a third party to exercise downgrade rights on your behalf

Because downgrade rights apply to end users, they are not designed for third-party facilitation, which has many complications. Also, such facilitation is not suitable for carrying out on a large scale.

Note: If you are looking for more information on Microsoft Downgrade Rights or are interested in other Operating Systems, then you will want to visit Microsoft's Licensing Briefs page on their website and look for the Downgrade rights Link.

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Downgrade Guides

Note: Best Practice before using any of the following sections is to back up your data, software and keep a note of your software serial numbers on a regular basis, but especially before you do any work on your systems Operating System. If at any point something fails and a clean install is required, you will lose anything you haven't backed up.

Going from Windows 10 to Windows 8.1

Did You Upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 and want to go back to Windows 8.1?

If you haven't deleted the temporary files that were created when you upgraded to Windows 10 on your PC, you can essentially just rollback your PC to your older version of Windows.

Go to the Main Settings menu in Windows 10 :

  1. Choose Recovery from the main menu

  2. Click on the option Go Back to Windows 8.1

  3. You can follow the on-screen instructions from this point

Note: This is only available for the first month after upgrading and is only compatible with Windows 8.1.

If you no longer have the temporary files created during the upgrade process or it's longer than a month since the upgrade occurred, then this option will not work for you. Instead please follow the guide below for downgrading from a machine purchased with Windows 10.

Did you purchase a system with Windows 10 and want to use Windows 8.1 instead?

You will have to replace Windows 10 with a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 using original installation media.

Note: You will need a genuine 25-digit serial code for the Windows 8.1 Installation media. (This is what Microsoft calls your Product Key.)
  1. Boot from your installation media (DVD or USB.).

  2. Once you've selected your Language, Location and Keyboard Locality, click on Install Now.

  3. You need to select the option Custom from the two on the screen.

  4. Format and install on your selected partition.

  5. Once the installation has completed, click on Finish.

At this point you need to configure your system by installing your backups and software and ensuring the correct drivers are installed.

Going from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8

Did You Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 and want to go back to Windows 8?

You can’t use your Windows 8 system image on Windows 8.1. This is because it’s effectively a different operating system, once it's been upgraded.

So this is not a downgrade at all, but rather a long system restore.

First, you have to replace Windows 8.1 with a fresh installation of Windows 8 using your original installation media or the ones you were asked to create prior to upgrading.

Once you’re back in Windows 8, either use your Windows 8 recovery disk or restart to the recovery options from the Power menu.

Hold down the left SHIFT key and select Restart to select the recovery environment.

Restart into Recovery Environment

Within the recovery environment, go to Troubleshoot, Advanced Options, and finally System Image Recovery.

You need to choose your target operating system; select Windows 8.

Make sure the drive containing the appropriate system recovery image you were prompted to create before the upgrade is connected, select the image you want to restore, proceed to the Next window to click Finish and then confirm that you want to continue.

Windows should now re-image your computer. This may take some time.

Did you purchase a system with Windows 8.1 and want to use Windows 8 instead?

Microsoft does not support going from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8. Windows 8.1 is seen as an update/upgrade to Windows 8, rather than a new OS.

They do support going to Windows 7 or Windows Vista following the downgrade process in the section above.

If you have a legal copy of Windows 8 Installation media and Key, then you can perform a clean install on the system instead. However please be aware that if you have updates turned on, you will be asked to update to Windows 8.1 at some point.

Note: Microsoft will not support downgrade rights from an upgrade copy of Windows 8.1 media.

Going from Windows 8 to Windows 7

Note: Before you attempt a Downgrade installation, there are a couple of things you should check and do first.
  • Ensure your PC actually supports Windows 7. Check the Dell Support Site for Windows 7 drivers for your computer.
  • Create a recovery drive that contains a copy of your new PC’s recovery partition. This will allow you to restore the original Windows 8 system if you wipe the recovery partition.

How to Downgrade Windows 8 Pro to Windows 7 Professional

The first step is to enter your computer’s UEFI settings screen in the BIOS and enable the Legacy boot option, not the UEFI boot option. Tap rapidly at the F2 key as your system boots to enter the BIOS.

You will need a Windows 7 Professional installation disc and a valid license key for it.

Insert the media into your computer and restart into the Windows 7 installer. Tap rapidly on F12 as your system boots and select the correct media option from the onscreen menu to boot to the installer.

Install Windows 7 Professional as you normally would, providing the legitimate Windows 7 Pro key during the installation process.

After Windows 7 finishes installing, the online activation will fail because your product key is already in use. If you don’t see an activation failed message, you can press Start, type Activate, and click Activate Windows. You’ll need to activate by phone. Call up the phone number displayed in the activation window and explain that you’re exercising your Windows 8 Pro downgrade rights. Have your Windows 8 Pro key ready; you’ll need it to prove your PC has downgrade rights.

You will be given a single-use activation code. Enter that activation code into the window and your Windows 7 Professional installation will be activated.

Activation Successful

To downgrade multiple computers, you can use the same installation disc and Windows 7 product key. However, you’ll need to call up Microsoft each time to receive an activation key.

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Article ID: SLN294589

Last Date Modified: 09/20/2019 11:24 PM

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