Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

How to uninstall Windows 8

Don't like Windows 8? Here's how you can downgrade back to Windows 7

Article comments

Windows 8 is set to launch on October 26 and many PCtablet and laptop users have already installed the Consumer Preview or the Release Preview. But Windows 8 is a big change from Windows 7, and won't be for everyone: particularly those who wish to continue using only mouse and keyboard.

 What happens if you've installed Windows 8, but want to go back to Windows 7, or even Windows XP (we're assuming no-one is keen on returning to Vista)? Here we explain your options if you wish to uninstall Windows 8, in a variety of circumstances.

Before we start it is worth pointing out that Microsoft makes it very clear that rolling back a Windows 8 installation is not a simple task. The upgrade to Windows 8 is made fantastically easy, but the pay-off is that uninstalling takes some doing.

On the download page for the Windows 8 Release Preview Microsoft says: "If you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you'll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC, which is typically DVD media.

"If you don’t have recovery media, you might be able to create it from a recovery partition on your PC using software provided by your PC manufacturer. Check the support section of your PC manufacturer's website for more information. After you install Windows 8, you won’t be able to use the recovery partition on your PC to go back to your previous version of Windows."

And although Microsoft hasn't explicitly said so, we expect that the situation will be the same with the final release of Windows 8.

So if you are considering overwriting your Windows 7 install just to try Windows 8, think carefully. If in doubt, install Windows 8 alongside your current operating system, or not at all. And whatever else you do, back up everything on your PC before you make the move. You'll never regret backing up.

For more on the changes in Windows 8 and how to use them visit Windows 8 Advisor. For detailed advice on installing Windows 8 Release Preview, read our article: How to install Windows 8.

Windows 8

Delete Windows 8 from a second drive partition

Congratulations if you took notice of this warning, and created a second partition in order to install Windows 8 on that partition. This dualboot option means your original installation of Windows 7 or XP remains on the primary drive and you can play at using Windows 8 without committing. If that is the case it is pretty easy to uninstall Windows 8 while retaining your old operating system and data. (For more, see: How to dual boot Windows 8.)

First of all, back up your entire PC (see: How to back up your PC and laptop). Be especially careful to copy off any files and folders that you need to keep, and any that are in your Windows 8 partition.

Once you are done boot into the OS you want to keep - we're assuming it is Windows 7. Go to Start, Run, msconfig (or search 'msconfig' in the search bar, and click the .exe that appears). Navigate to the Boot tab, and highlight the Windows 8 boot option. Click 'Delete'. Then highlight the Windows 7 boot option. Click 'Set As Default'. You can now close msconfig.


Now you have deleted Windows 8 from your PC's Boot process, you can delete the Windows 8 data. Go to Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management. Find 'Disk Management' in the lefthand pane, and click it.

Find the partition you created for the Windows 8 install. Right-click on it and select 'Delete Volume'. Once this is done, if you right-click on the empty volume and select 'Shrink Volume'. Close the module, and reboot the system. Your Windows 8 partition is now no more.

Uninstall Windows 8 if you installed it over Windows 7

If you installed Windows 8 after formatting or deleting your Windows 7 installation, the only way to go back is to wipe over the Windows 8 install. You need to do a clean install of Windows 7, which will wipe your PC. So you will need Windows 7 installation media (and a product key). And you need to back up all your files to a separate drive. Your PC will be wiped clean in the move.

Boot using the Windows 7 DVD or USB drive. Then format the Windows 8 partition, and install your copy of Windows.

Read our How to install Windows 7 from a USB flash drive for detailed instructions on creating, booting from and installing an OS from a Windows 7 USB stick.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


thebug said: just format the hard drive and start with a fresh install of win7Ive done it and works great

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *