Can you buy a new computer and downgrade it to Windows 7? - Joe
Microsoft's decision to take a radical departure in the user interface of Windows 8 has many of its customers asking the same question.
Microsoft has always had downgrade rights in place for its operating systems, but they typically direct this option to its corporate users, so in the case of Windows 8, you only get downgrade rights with the more expensive Pro version.
Frankly, the process of downgrading isn't a simple one and assumes that you will want to eventually upgrade to Windows 8 down the road. Businesses typically have an IT department that create an 'image' that is the standard for how each desktop should be setup, so it's relatively easy for them to reinstall an operating system.
If you don't already have an eligible Windows 7 installation disk, the process gets really inefficient because you have to call Microsoft to explain what you are doing so they can provide you with a valid software key.
A better approach would be to either purchase a new machine with Windows 7 pre-installed or use some of the apps that make Windows 8 look and work more like Windows 7.
Most major retailers are force-feeding their customers Windows 8 computers, but companies that custom-build computers can still provide you with computers pre-loaded with Windows 7.
This same cycle happens every time a new version of Windows is released. In fact, we were still building computers with Windows XP pre-installed for our corporate customers years after Windows Vista was released and well into the release of Windows 7.
If you think that you might want to upgrade your Windows 7 machine to Windows 8 at some point in the future, take advantage of Microsoft's current $39.95 Windows 8 Pro upgrade offer that expires on January 31st, 2013.
You don't have to install it now, you can simply create an install disk for future use. The upgrade price for Windows 8 pro on February 1 will jump to $199 and the upgrade to the basic Windows 8 will jump to $119, so you can save a bunch of money if you act quickly.
If you already have a Windows 8 computer and want to avoid the downgrading headaches, you can try an app to modify the Windows 8 interface to get you feeling more comfortable.
A great free app to bypass the new 'tile start screen' and quickly recreate some of the missing items such as the Start button is called Classic Shell.
You can choose to create a Start menu that closely replicates Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP and choose whether you want to change some of the basic navigational settings or a whole host of settings so you feel like more like your old comfortable version of Windows.
Once you install Classic Shell, your computer will bypass the new Windows 8 default tiled Start screen and jump right into the Windows Explorer with a new icon in the bottom left corner that looks likethe old Start button.
You will still have the Windows 8 'hotspots' active, so if you drag your mouse to the far right edge of the screen, the new controls will pop up so you can go back to the tiled interface at will.
This allows you to slowly warm up to the new interface on your terms and bypass all the pain of downgrading.
Ken Colburn, President
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