November 20, 2012, 3:33 PM — For all the talk about the advantages of Windows 8 over Windows 7for example, account sync, better multiple monitor support, and faster startup timessome people just can't get past Windows 8's radical shift in user interface. Some may even want to ditch Windows 8 altogether in favor of Windows 7 after spending a few days with the new OS.
In a Monday blog post, usability expert Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group explained in excruciating detail exactly why and how Windows 8 is difficult to use. It was a damning report that might have many questioning whether to take the Windows 8 plunge. The good news is you can buy a PC loaded with Windows 8 Pro, try out the new OS, and then downgrade to Windows 7. Unfortunately, however, the road back to Windows 7 can be confusing and full of twists.
Hewlett-Packard is typical: It does not support downgrades of consumer-grade Windows 8 PCs to Windows 7. But if you buy a machine loaded with Windows 8 Pro, you can make the jump. HP's policy is based on Microsoft's licensing terms, which support downgrade rights only to new PCs preloaded with Windows 8 Pro, the version of Windows designed for business.
[See related: 8 worst Windows 8 irritations (and how to fix them) ]
Unfortunately, machines loaded with Windows 8 Pro will demand a pricing premium over similarly spec'd Windows 8 systems. We ran a quick comparison survey of machines from HP, Dell, and Toshiba, and found that an upgrade to the Pro version of Windows 8 increased system prices anywhere between $35 and $100.
And even when the price delta is small enough to justify buying a Windows 8 Pro machine (complete with downgrade rights!), the downgrade process can still be difficult to figure out. When PCWorld researched this, sales and support reps for both Microsoft and major PC manufacturers told us two different stories.