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Downgrade to Windows 7 Professional Edition on a System Shipped with Windows 10 Pro

Summary: Steps for downgrading to Windows 7 on systems that have Windows 10 installed from the factory.

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This article discusses the actions that are required to downgrade to Windows 7 Professional Edition on a system that shipped with factory-installed Windows 10 Pro.

Table of Contents:

  1. Before-You-Begin
  2. Create Windows 10 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

These instructions are provided to customers who purchased systems that are preinstalled with Windows 10 Pro who wish to downgrade their operating system to Windows 7 Professional. Other versions of Windows 10 are not eligible to downgrade to Windows 7. While the Windows 10 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 10 Pro purchase option, Windows 7 drivers may not be available.

Before You Begin

The following materials are recommended when you downgrade your computer from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 7 Professional Edition:

  • Check to ensure that Windows 7 drivers are available for required components (NVMe Drivers, USB 3.0 drivers for Intel Skylake systems)
  • 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 (64 MB or larger)

Installation of Windows 7 on many current system models is complicated by the elimination of some legacy components (USB 2.0 most notably) requiring the addition of additional drivers to Windows 7 ISO images to allow the Windows 7 operating system to be installed.

Drivers that may need to be added to your Windows 7 ISO image

  • USB 3.0 driver
  • Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver version 14.5.x.x or higher
  • NVMe storage device driver
SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: If your system shipped with Windows 10 installed, PXE boot capability will be DISABLED by default. If you need PXE boot functionality, you must enable it in the system BIOS.

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Create or download your Windows 10 Pro Recovery Media

Before starting the downgrade process, create your recovery media for Windows 10 Pro. You want to return to the factory-installed operating system later.

You can download the Windows 10 Recovery images for your system from the Dell Support Website.

SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: The Windows 7 Recovery media ISO is only available on systems that are ordered with a Windows 7 image that is installed from the factory. Only select Dell systems are available with a Windows 7 Professional downgrade option. This Windows 7 preload option is only available at the time the system is purchased.

To create your restore media for Windows 10 Pro, follow these steps:

SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: Creation of recovery media requires up to 16 GB 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 10 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 14.5.x.x or higher
  • Wireless or Local Area Network (LAN) driver
  • NVMe Storage device driver
  • USB 3.0 driver
SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: Systems that use AMD processors will not have an Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver. You may need to download an applicable AMD storage driver.
SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: 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. For more information on CAB file usage see: How to configure driver installation from CAB file(s) in Windows (Vista, 7, 8) and Windows Server (2008/2012) 

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

SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: To enable downgrade to Windows 7, the BIOS settings on the system must be changed to boot into legacy BIOS mode. If the BIOS setting is not changed to native UEFI mode boot prior to installing, Windows 10 Pro Product will install; however, the following Windows 10 Pro Product functionalities will not work as they rely on a native UEFI mode boot:
  • Secure Boot
  • Seamless Boot experience
  • Network unlock for BitLocker for systems with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
  • e-Drive support

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.
SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: The F2 & F12 options are still available to access the BIOS, but on some fastboot enabled systems, timing of these methods may be difficult for some users, so the Windows method was listed as the default process to access the BIOS.

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.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) on Windows 10 systems is TPM version 2.0.

If you install Windows 7 on a system shipped with Windows 10, you will need to downgrade TPM to version 1.2 for Windows 7. See: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Upgrade/Downgrade process for Windows 7 and 10 operating system Upgrade/Downgrade.


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Install Windows 7 Professional

During the process of installing Windows 7 Professional, removal of the Windows 10 partitions is required (Windows 7 cannot be installed on Windows 10 GPT partitions).

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

SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: 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.
SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: 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 shutdown 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 Enter key. (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 Enter key. 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.
    SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: 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, NVMe storage 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. If more than one driver is required, then you will need to update the ISO file with the updated drivers as Windows 7 will only allow one F6 manual driver install during installation. See: Dell articles that address the NVMe Solid-State Drives and the Intel Skylake Chipset
    SLN302339_en_US__1icon Note: 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 must 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 can 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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Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



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