Microsoft wants users to love the Windows 10 upgrade so much that they never want to leave. It has spent years trying to get the right mix of new features and old experiences. Apps, sometimes a decade old, are getting new leases on life. Mouse and keyboard users should find Windows 10 as easy to use as Windows 7.
There’s a back up plan in place for users who download the free Windows 10 upgrade and decide they don’t like it. Microsoft’s decision to require users to download updates isn’t setting well with some. Though similar in the way you interact with them, Windows 7 and Windows 10 look very different.
Don’t fret or panic. If you’ve only recently done the upgrade to Windows from Windows 7, Windows 8 or the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you can go back. Here’s how to go back to Windows 7 and Windows after installing the Windows 10 upgrade.
Before We Begin
Before we begin, be sure that you’re ready to give up on Windows 10 and go back to Windows 8 and Windows 7. Getting back to your old operating system is going to take some time. What’s more, that time could be a big waste if you decide later on to return to Windows 10.
Previous versions of Windows forced you to restore your PC or tablet from an external back up that you made before. Windows 10 is a bit smarter about letting you go back. When you install it, the upgrade saves a copy of your old operating system so that you can go back if you need to. To be clear, this only works for users who have upgraded their Windows 7 and Windows 8 PC to Windows 10 in the last month. Users who performed a clean install of Windows 10 will still need to use the back up they created.
There’s a new wrinkle for users that are going from Windows 10 to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Even with these smaller updates, Microsoft offers the ability to go back to the previous version. With the Windows 10 Upgrade, the window to go back to your previous version lasts 30 days. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft says you’ll have 10 days before the software deletes the files essential to going back.
Going Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 The Easy Way
Turn on your notebook, desktop or tablet. Then press the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
Tap or click on Settings. It’s in the Start menu just above the power button.
Note that if you in Tablet Mode your Start Menu will look more like what’s below. Touch users should tap on the menu icon in the top-left corner of their screen and select Settings from the menu that slides out on the left.
In the Settings app, tap or click on the Update & Security icon.
Now tap or click on the Recovery option in the menu on the far left of your screen. It’s just below the Backup menu item.
Now tap or click on the Go Back to Windows 8.1. This option is entirely specific to what was installed on your PC before. For example, you could see G Back to Windows 7 instead of what’s in this screenshot. Regardless, tap or click on Get Started. You’ll need your device to be plugged in.
Follow the on-screen prompts and you’ll be back on Windows 7 and Windows 8 within the next few hours.
Remember that users who performed clean installs of Windows 10, not upgrades don’t get this option. You’re stuck having to completely restore your PC from any backups you might have created. If you didn’t create any backups before starting the Windows 10 installation process, it’s time to order restore media from your device maker.
Going Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 The Hard Way
For some of you, it’ll have been more than a month since you used the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer to update your machine. If that’s the case, the button for restoring your device back to its older operating system could be missing. Windows 10 only keeps the files needed for going back to Windows 7 and Windows 8 for a month. After that month, it cleans up your device’s storage and deletes the necessary files, figuring you’ve had some time to acclimate to Windows 10 and would like your extra storage back.
To go back to Windows 8 or Windows 7, you’re going to need to restore your PC from a backup. If your device came with a restore DVD, now is the time to use it. Dell, HP, Lenovo and others all offer ways to get restore media for machines purchased from them. Some device builders make restore media available for download online. Contact support for your PC maker to order restore media, if you don’t have any.
If you like Windows 10 and don’t plan on going back, go to the Storage tool in the System area and clear your temporary files. This will free up that storage space, but also strand you on Windows 10.
You can find out more about Windows 10 and the features it packs in Gotta Be Mobile’s comprehensive Windows 10 review.