Yes, Windows 7 is still available. If you want a new PC and you also want Windows 7, you can probably get it. This is easiest for businesses, but even home users have ways to get Windows 7.
If you’re a home user, we wouldn’t recommend doing this. You’ll have to pay more and spend more time setting things up. Windows 8.1 isn’t as bad as Windows 8 was, and you can always install a start menu replacement.
Buy a PC With Windows 7
Some PCs are still available with Windows 7, although they’re vanishing fast. Search a site like Amazon for “Windows 7 laptop” and you’ll probably find them.
The big problem with purchasing a laptop with Windows 7 is that it will likely be rather old. It’s now been 14 months since Windows 8 became generally available, so all these laptops will be over a year old. When you consider the huge advances made in hardware in the last year, particularly with Intel’s Haswell chips and their extremely improved power efficiency and battery life, these don’t look like such a great deal.
Seeking out an old laptop is a dangerous game, as you may end up paying significantly more than the laptop is worth. Be sure to compare it to new models and verify that you’re actually getting a good deal — new Haswell and Atom laptops are becoming surprisingly cheap. You’d probably be happier with a longer-lasting, newer device, even if it comes with a version of Windows you don’t prefer.
Find Your Old Boxed Copy of Windows 7
Did you ever buy a boxed retail copy of Windows 7? If you did, you may still be able to install it on your new PC today. Note that there are several different versions of Windows 7. There’s an OEM copy, which you’re only allowed to install on a single PC. There’s also an upgrade copy, which can only be installed as an upgrade. However, if you picked up a full retail boxed copy, you can install it on your new Windows 8 PC. The only catch is that it can only be installed on one PC at a time, so you’ll have to remove it from any other PCs it’s installed on before installing it on your new PC.
If you already have a retail copy of Windows 7, this is an inexpensive way to replace Windows 8. Before you do this, you should do some research and ensure your new PC’s hardware is fully compatible with Windows 7. If the manufacturer only made hardware drivers available for Windows 8, the hardware may not work properly on Windows 7. Luckily, due to all the businesses standardizing on Windows 7, manufacturers will likely provide Windows 7 drivers for most hardware.
Locate and Buy a Copy of Windows 7
These boxed copies of Windows 7 are still available, even though Microsoft is no longer selling them. You can find them on any site that sells computer stuff, from Amazon to Newegg. For example, perform a search for Windows 7 on Amazon.com and you’ll see you can buy a boxed copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for $89. Note that this is an OEM edition, so you’re only able to install it on one PC ever — that’s what the license agreement says, at least.
This isn’t a terrible deal, but you may want to reconsider spending the $89 and try using Windows 8.1 to see if you like it. You should also try to ensure that your PC’s hardware offers full support for Windows 7 before purchasing a copy.
Use Downgrade Rights
If you have a computer that came with the Professional edition of Windows 8, you have downgrade rights. This means that you can install Windows 7 over Windows 8 without needing an additional license key. Our guide will walk you through the process of exercising your downgrade rights.
These downgrade rights are intended for businesses, which is why you can only do this if you buy a PC that comes with Windows 8 Professional. You can’t just upgrade your laptop to Windows 8 Professional and then exercise downgrade rights — you can only do it if your PC originally came with the Professional edition. This effectively locks most home users out, leaving the option only available to businesses.
Take Advantage of Your Organization’s Volume Licensing Agreement
If your organization has a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft, you likely have downgrade rights for all your devices. You can choose to install Windows 7 on devices that came with Windows 8 without paying any additional licensing fees. This is how so many businesses are standardizing on Windows 7, even if they’re purchasing new devices that come with Windows 8.
You May Want to Reconsider
Before you spend $89 or more for a new copy of Windows 7 and spend hours installing it on your new PC and hoping the hardware drivers properly support Windows 7, you may want to slow down. The price, effort, and risk of hardware drivers not being properly tested with Windows 7 should make you pause and reconsider. Buying a new Windows 8 laptop and installing Windows 7 is fraught with these problems. If the laptop has a touch screen, it likely won’t work well with Windows 7.
If you have an existing PC that came with Windows 7, sticking with Windows 7 makes a lot of sense. The hardware was tested for Windows 7 and you don’t have to put any work in. Windows 8 has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages.
On the other hand, if you have a PC that came with Windows 8, you may want to suck it up and stick with Windows 8. Windows 8.1 can be made much less obnoxious, and a start menu replacement can make you feel more at home with less time and money spent.
We don’t really recommend downgrading new PCs from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7. On the other hand, you do have the option to continue using Windows 7 on new hardware if you really want to. Businesses are standardizing on Windows 7 and it will be supported by Microsoft with security updates until 2020.
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