Windows 8 Downgrade Rights

Windows 8 has been out for a while now and has thoroughly divided opinions.  Some commentators have likened it to Windows Vista’s rocky release, others have embraced the new Metro interface as a ‘brilliant’ evolution.  Like it or not, chances are that it will come pre-installed on the next laptops and PCs that you buy.  If you do NOT like the new Windows, you’ll need to exercise your downgrade rights.

‘Downgrade rights’ are the allowance you get from Microsoft to use a previous version of the operating system with your Windows 8 license.  Microsoft have always allowed downgrading from their professional editions to previous iterations – you can run Windows XP with your Vista license, and likewise you can downgrade your Windows 8 Professional license to run Windows 7.  You can only downgrade from Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise – Windows 8 standard does not allow you to downgrade to Windows 7.

Downgrading from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 7 is fairly straightforward.  As described by Microsoft, the basic process is:

  • Obtain Windows 7 Disc and License Key

Unfortunately, Microsoft won’t provide these, they just specify that you need to acquire legit media and a license key.  You can use the license key from the sticker on another Windows 7 machine.  You can download Windows 7 Pro SP1 here (32 bit) or here (64 bit).

  • Install Windows 7

Boot from the disc you obtained / created and follow the prompts.

  • Perform a telephone activation

Enter the license key when prompted and click ‘Activate Now’.  The activation will fail (because you got this key from another machine), and you’ll be given the option to activate by phone.  Call the number, enter the 54 digit code, and in return receive another 54 digit code that you will enter below.  Click ‘activate’ and you’re done!


Entering the first 54 digit code into the phone and the second on onto the computer is a little irritating, but if you’re reluctant to move on to Windows 8 then it will certainly be worthwhile.  Hope you find this post useful.

EDIT: Some people have been having trouble following this procedure on Windows 8 Certified Hardware.  These systems implement UEFI and Secureboot and require changes to install Windows 7.  This will be our next post…


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