How to get a new PC that runs Windows 7, not Windows 8

Your Windows 7 options are drying up fast, but you don't have to settle for a Windows 8 PC if you don't want one.

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The trick to finding more than just a few outdated Windows 7 models or having to jump through agonizing downgrade hoops with Windows 8 is knowing where to look. Here's our summary of what we found on the major PC makers' sites.

Dell: We didn't have much luck when we called Dell's sales line. A Dell rep told us that only a handful of "last year's" Windows 7 models existed. But when we went online and skipped the For Home section of PCs and went to Dell's For Small Business & Office pages instead, we hit the Windows 7 jackpot.

In the business section, we found Windows 7 models to choose from in the Latitude, Inspiron, Vostro, and XPS laptop and Ultrabook lines.

The number of Dell OptiPlex and high-performance Precision desktops equipped with Windows 7 were just as plentiful. However, we spotted only one budget-friendly, midrange Inspiron with Windows 7.

HP: As we found with Dell, most of HP's consumer Home & Home Office Store desktops and laptops ship with Windows 8. The trick to buying Windows 7-equipped PCs from HP is to skip calling the sales line and head directly to HP's Small & Medium Business Store. There, you can choose an Envy, Folio, or EliteBook system that comes with Windows 7.

Lenovo: Finding Windows 7 systems from the world's second-largest PC maker is a bit harder. Lenovo does carry Windows 7 hardware, but what we saw didn't impress us. The offerings ranged from underpowered laptops running Windows 7 Home Premium to expensive midrange ThinkPad models.

Beyond Dell, HP, and Lenovo, your choices narrow even more.

Best Buy may not stock its retail stores with Windows 7 PCs, but you can still buy Windows 7 systems by visiting or calling the sales line. When we called, the rep told us that "most Windows 7 systems have sold out" and that the only Windows 7 systems for sale were an Alienware laptop and a refurbished Pavilion desktop.

Navigating to find Windows 7 PCs was much easier. After we narrowed our search for Windows 7 systems, we found hundreds of different laptops and desktops that met our criteria (and even one Vista notebook).

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