A Dell representative said that to downgrade from Windows 8, you needed to buy a new, unused copy of Windows 7thus making the whole point of having downgrade rights pointless. Another representative said a Windows 7 disc image would be built into new Windows 8 Pro machines. This contradicts pretty much everything Microsoft has ever posted online about downgrade rights.
But after scouring Microsoft's online support pages, checking out real-world downgrade experiences on various forums, and then confirming the process with Microsoft's press team, we can now share the truth about how downgrades work for anyone with a PC running Windows 8 Pro.
But first: Why downgrade?
Microsoft offers a downgrade path mostly for enterprise and small business PC users who may not be ready to use the new version of Windows. Some businesses don't want to suffer the training costs associated with rolling out a new OS to employee workstations. Others are concerned about incompatibility issues with legacy software.
Consumers, on the other hand, usually want to dump Windows 8 because they simply don't like the new OS. The Nielsen Norman Group found consumers' main gripe with Windows 8 is the dual nature of the system, which combines desktop and touch-friendly environments in an oftentimes confusing melange. Not only is the user interface inconsistent, it also requires users to remember where to go for which features, and to waste time switching between interfaces.
[See Related: Windows 8 interface called 'disappointing' by usability expert ]
You need to really want it
If you already know that you're going to downgrade to Windows 7, you could save yourself some grief and buy a new Windows 7 PC. First, just because you have the right to downgrade a Windows 8 Pro machine to Windows 7 doesn't mean running the older OS on newer hardware will be problem-free. HP, for example, warns that it hasn't tested all of its Windows 8 hardware with Windows 7. So the company says there's no guarantee you'll be able to download the drivers you need to run your Windows 7 system properly.