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Your ability to downgrade Windows 8 to an earlier version of Windows depends both on the version of Windows 8 that you have and on the method by which you obtained Windows 8. Not all Windows editions provide downgrade rights. If you do have downgrade rights and decide to use them, you continue to keep the license and rights of use for your original version and may "upgrade" back at any time.
The primary methods of obtaining Windows 8 are as follows:
Downgrade rightsThe downgrade rights for each scenario that is mentioned in the previous section are as follows.
For a retail version of Windows 8There are no downgrade rights for retail versions of Windows 8. If you upgraded Windows by using a retail version of Windows 8, you have to reinstall your earlier version of Windows by using the recovery or installation media that was included with your PC.
If you don’t have recovery media, you might be able to create it before you upgrade from a recovery partition on your PC by using software that is provided by your PC manufacturer. Check the support section of your PC manufacturer’s website for more information. Make sure that you have this recovery disk before you upgrade, because you won't be able to use the recovery partition to create a recovery disk after you install Windows 8.
For more information about how to start your PC from recovery media, see Boot from the media you created to install on another partition
For a personal-use license of Windows 8 System BuilderIf you installed Windows 8 by purchasing and installing Windows 8 System Builder yourself, there are no downgrade rights. This is governed by the personal-use Microsoft Software License Terms for the product. The process for downgrading to an earlier version of Windows is the same as it is for a retail version of Windows 8. That is, you have to buy or have previously bought a product key for the earlier version of Windows and then install that version by using the recovery or installation media.
For a PC that has Windows 8 preinstalled by an OEMOEM downgrade rights apply to only Windows 8 Pro and allow for downgrades for up to two earlier versions (to Windows 7 Professional and to Windows Vista Business).
How to downgrade your PCYour OEM will have the best information about how to downgrade your specific PC and in some cases may decide to send you installation media or a PC that has the operating system downgrade already installed.
Note Neither Microsoft nor the OEM is obligated to provide media for the downgrade.
To perform the downgrade on your PC yourself, follow these steps:
How to downgrade by using a Volume Licensing agreement for Windows 8 Pro Upgrade or Windows 8 EnterpriseVolume Licensing provides the greatest flexibility as to downgrade rights. Volume Licensing allows for downgrades to additional earlier versions and editions. The following table sumarizes downgrade eligibility. Be aware that there are no downgrade rights to Windows 7 Ultimate.
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Note A Windows 8 customer who has multilanguage functionality cannot downgrade to Windows 7 Pro or to Windows XP Pro. This is because the multilanguage functionality is exclusive to Windows 7 Enterprise and is not available for a Professional edition.
The Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) provides download access to versions of Windows through the end of those versions' support life cycle.
Note In addition to the VLSC download software access, all Volume Licensing customers may decide to buy physical media (CD/DVD) copies of their licensed software through their Microsoft reseller.
If you legally obtained physical media (CD/DVD) of earlier Microsoft products that your organization is currently licensed to use through downgrade rights, you can use these prior software versions at your discretion.
For more information about access to prior product versions, see the "Fulfillment Information" section of the Microsoft Licensing website
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