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If you’ve installed Windows 8 and found yourself wishing that you could go back to Windows 7 or another operating system, there’s a way to do this. If you installed Windows 8 in a dual-boot environment and kept your old operating system around, it’s not too hard – but if you’ve installed Windows 8 over your old operating system, you’ll have to reinstall the old operating system from scratch.
Bear in mind that this process will remove all the files on your Windows 8 partition. if you want to save some of the files, be sure to back them up ahead of time.
Remove Windows 8 From Dual Boot
If you’ve installed Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration with Windows 7, you’ll need to boot your old version of Windows to remove Windows 8 from your system. If you’re using Windows 8, restart your computer and select your old operating system.
From your old Windows 7 system, press the Windows key, type msconfig, and press Enter. Click the Boot tab, select the Windows 8 boot entry, and click the Delete button. Click OK to save your settings and then click Exit without restart – you don’t need to restart your computer just yet.
This prevents Windows 8 from booting and removes the Choose an operating system screen that appears at boot – you’ll boot directly to your old Windows 7 system. However, Windows 8 is still installed on your hard drive.
Next, press the Windows key, type Disk management, and press Enter. In the Disk Management window, locate the Windows 8 partition, right-click it, and select Delete Volume.
To identify your Windows 8 partition, bear in mind that it won’t be the C: partition – that’s your Windows 7 partition. If you need more help, you can open Windows Explorer and browse each drive to locate the drive letter with Windows 8’s files on it.
After you confirm the deletion, Windows 8 will be removed from your system. However, there’s still some unallocated space going to waste. You can reclaim it by right-clicking your C: partition and selecting Extend Volume. Use the default options in the wizard that appears to extend your C: partition by the maximum amount, reclaiming all the unallocated space for your C: partition.
That’s it – if you installed Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration, Windows 8 has now been completely removed from your system. Your computer will boot directly to Windows 7 and you’ve reclaimed all the hard drive space you assigned to Windows 8.
Reinstall Your Old Operating System Over Windows 8
If you performed an upgrade installation that upgraded your Windows 7 system to Windows 8 – or installed Windows 8 over another operating system, such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Linux – there’s no way to uninstall Windows 8 and get your old operating system environment back. Windows 8 replaced your old operating system during the upgrade process – to remove Windows 8, we’ll have to reinstall another operating system over it. You’ll have to reinstall all your favorite programs and restore your personal files from a backup after reinstalling the old operating system.
The process for installing another operating system over Windows 8 is the same process as installing an operating system on your computer. If your computer came with a recovery partition, you can restore it to its factory default state using the recovery partition. To do so, restart your computer and press the recovery key during boot – often F10 or F12, but it varies from computer to computer. The key may be displayed on-screen during the boot-up process. If it’s not, you’ll need to consult your computer’s manual for instructions on recovering your computer to its factory default state.
You may also have a recovery disc – or set of recovery discs – that restores your computer to its default state. To use them, insert the first recovery disc into your computer and restart your computer. it should automatically boot from the recovery discs. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to press a key to access its boot menu or use the BIOS setup screen to change its boot order and have your computer boot from the discs. If you don’t see on-screen instructions telling you which key to press during boot-up for either of these options, consult your computer’s manual.
Assuming you don’t have a recovery partition or recovery discs, you can install an old operating system using its installation media. For example, if you have a Windows 7 disc, you can insert it into your computer’s disc drive, restart your computer, and begin the Windows 7 installation process. If your computer doesn’t have a physical disc drive, you can put Windows 7 on a USB stick using the same process you can use to put Windows 8 on a USB stick. During the installation process, tell Windows 7 to perform a custom installation and select your Windows 8 partition. The installer will place the files from your Windows 8 partition into a Windows.old directory on your C: drive, so you won’t lose them.
This same process works for other operating systems – for example, if you prefer Linux or Windows XP, you can install either operating system over Windows 8 in place of Windows 7. Just go through the normal installation process, telling the operating system to take over your entire hard drive.
If you’ve installed Windows 8, what did you think of it? Have you stuck with it and loved it? Or did you end up uninstalling it and going back to Windows 7 or another operating system? Leave a comment and share your experience!