How to Install Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a System that was Factory Downgraded to Windows 7 (2022)

What is the process required to install Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a system that shipped with Windows 7 downgraded from the factory

Table of Contents:

  1. Installing Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a Machine that was Factory Downgraded to Windows 7
  2. Data Management
  3. Software
  4. BIOS Settings and Hard Drive
  5. Installing Windows 8 or Windows 10
  6. Drivers and Setup

Install Windows 10 from DVD or USB

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1. Installing Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a Machine that was Factory Downgraded to Windows 7

Certain Dell systems were created for Windows 8 or Windows 10. Although they were created for and are normally purchased with Windows 8 or Windows 10, some systems are purchased with a Windows 7 downgrade. These systems ship with Windows 7 installed, and with the Windows 8 or Windows 10 Media and a BIOS loaded Windows 8 or Windows 10 digital product key.

You can identify a downgrade system from the order details of the system from the Dell Support Websiteor from a printed invoice that came with the system.

  1. Enter your system service tag in the Enter a Service Tag or other product ID box and press the Submit button.

  2. Click on the System Configuration Hyperlink

  3. Click on Original Configuration tab and then the Components Hyperlink, this will display the itemized list of order items for this specific system.

  4. In the Components list, look for a SKU line that includes the Windows operating system. A Windows 10 Professional to Windows 7 Professional downgrade will appear similar to this example (There are several downgrade SKUs that vary by region. All downgrades will have similar narrative text.) (Variable SKU number) Windows 7 Professional (Language), (Includes Windows 10 Pro License)

  5. If your system order doesn't contain a line referencing Windows 7 Professional and either a Windows 8 or Windows 10 Pro License, then your system does not have a Dell Windows 7 factory downgrade.

NOTE: While this article discusses installation of Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a downgrade system. Your system will only be licensed for either Windows 8 or Windows 10 based on the version of Windows licensed for the system at the time of purchase.

This situation is unique, as the factory settings in BIOS for Windows 7 will differ from that those required to operate Windows 8 or Windows 10 with Secure Boot. Additionally, the product key is stored on the motherboard and will require a clean format and installation of the licensed operating system.

NOTE: Windows 8 or Widows 10 Licensed systems shipped with a Windows 7 downgrade operating system will not ship with a Microsoft Product ID label as systems that were purchased with a Window 7 license normally would.

Since you will need to clean install, you will need to be sure to complete all of the following:

  • Pre-installation setting changes and data management
  • Clean installation of Windows 8 or Windows 10
  • Drivers, settings, and software setup

Pre-installation includes data management, software, and BIOS settings. Windows 8 or Windows 10 will require different settings than Windows 7 to function. Since the system was shipped with Windows 7, those features will need to be changed prior to installing Windows 8 or Windows 10. Additionally, because of the downgrade status, you will not be able to upgrade to Windows 8 or Windows 10 and will instead have to perform a clean installation.

This article should help guide you through the process of updating your system to Windows 8 or Windows 10, including all of the steps that are unique to systems that were downgraded to Windows 7 from the factory.

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2. Data Management

As you will need to perform a clean installation of Windows 8 or Windows 10, it will be necessary to back up your data prior to the installation.

Warning: Failure to back up your data before installing Windows 8 or Windows 10 will result in a loss of all data.

There are multiple ways to back up data on your system. Some of those include backing up user settings and other concentrate only on data. Though data is something managed by the user, there are tools you can use to back up your files.

For additional information or assistance with data management, please see the articles below:

  • A Basic explanation of Backup types and methods as apply to Linux and Windows Dell PC's
  • How to Backup and Restore Files using Windows 7

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3. Software

When performing a clean installation of Windows, all applications are removed from your system. This includes software that you may or may not have purchased with your system. Before you begin the process to install Windows 8, please be sure that you have access to both media (USB flash drive, disk or download) and the product key for each piece of software. Some of these may include, but are not limited to, the following types of applications:

  • Microsoft Office and Outlook
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Anti-Virus Software (Trend Micro, McAfee, Norton, Etc.)

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4. BIOS Settings and Hard Drive

Windows 7 and Windows 8/10 use different BIOS settings. When your system was shipped, the BIOS settings were set to the most optimal settings for Windows 7. If there comes a time that you wish to install Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a system that was downgraded to Windows 7 from the factory, it is recommended that you make these BIOS changes. Without these changes, Windows 8 will not have the Secure Boot feature. This feature is to increase and enhance security and it is not recommended to run Windows 8 or Windows 10 without these settings.

You will need to change the following two settings:

  • Change from Legacy to UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS
  • Enable the Secure Boot setting

BIOS Settings for Windows 8 or Windows 10

  1. Boot into BIOS by pressing F2 at the Dell logo until "Entering Setup" appears

  2. Select the Boot tab

  3. Set UFEI Boot to Enabled

  4. Set Secure Boot to Enabled

  5. Acknowledge any warning messages that may appear

Hard Drive (Windows 8 ONLY)

After you have changed these BIOS settings, you will need to convert your hard drive from an MBR (Master Boot Record) format to a GPT (GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) Partition Table) format. Ifthis hard drive conversion to GPT is not performed, then thecomputer may not recognize the hard drive and will beunable to boot.Please see the Dell Knowledge article: Converting your Hard Drive from MBR to GPT for more details. (Windows 10 install process will create a GPT automatically.)

After you have completed both the BIOS and Hard drive changes, you can begin the installation of Windows 8 or Windows 10.

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5. Installing Windows 8 or Windows 10

After having the system downgraded, you may wish to update the system to Windows 8 or Windows 10 at some point in the future.

This section will help guide you through a clean install of Windows 8 or Windows 10.

Changing your operating system requires consideration of hardware, software, and data. Below you will find articles that may assist with these considerations:

NOTE: The installation checklist for Windows 10 is essentially the same as Windows 8.

  • Windows 8 Upgrade Checklist
  • Windows 8 General Upgrade Troubleshooting
  • Windows 8 Support

Windows 8 or Windows 10 Product Key

When purchasing a Windows 8 or Windows 10 system, even after requesting the downgrade to Windows 7, the product key that comes with the system is Windows 8.

The way these keys are stored with the system have changed with the Windows 8 or Windows 10 operating system. Previous to Windows 8, a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label was placed on a system with the Windows product key. You may notice that your new system arrived without this label and that is because the product key is stored in the motherboard of the system. The product key information is "injected" into the motherboard and you should be able to install Windows 8 or Windows 10 using the media that came with your system.

NOTE: Before beginning installation, ensure that you have access to drivers. You can use a resource disk, however, the suggested method is using the Dell Support Site to obtain the latest drivers for your system.

Once you have completed all of the pre-installation steps in the sections above, you can begin installation of Windows 8 or Windows 10.

Clean Installation of Windows 8

  1. Insert the Windows 8DVD or USB Memory key into your system and restart your computer. At the Dell logo screen, tap the F12 key repeatedly until Preparing one time boot menu notice appears.

  2. When the menu appears, select the appropriate device to boot from, ie. USB Storage device

  3. Windows 8Setup appears.

  4. Select Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method and select Next.

  5. Select Install Now

  6. Accept the license terms described in the License Terms screen. Click the checkbox at the bottom of the screen to accept and click Accept to continue.

  7. At the Which Type of Installation do you Want screen, select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

  8. At the Where do you want to Install Windows? screen, select Drive options (advanced).

    Caution: This step will delete all data on your system. Please ensure that you have created a back up and tested the functionality of the back up before completing thist step.

    For a clean installation, delete all partitions that are shown by highlighting them one at a time and selecting Delete. After you have deleted all partitions select Unallocated Space and then select New. Click Apply to create your new Windows 8 or Windows 10 partitions, then click Next.

  9. Windows will now be freshly installed on your computer.

  10. Your computer will restart several times. This may take some time to complete installation.

  11. Windows 8 will boot up for the first time. Proceed to the Drivers and Setup section below

For additional information, see the Microsoft article How to perform a clean installation of WindowsHow to Install Windows 8 or Windows 10 on a System that was Factory Downgraded to Windows 7 (1)

Clean Installation of Windows10

For installation of Windows 10 see this article: Reset or reinstall Windows 10 on your Dell computer

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6. Drivers and Setup

There are multiple ways that you can get drivers on your system; however, the suggested method is to use the Dell Support Site to obtain the most recent up to date drivers.

Additionally, if you need more information on installing drivers, please see the Dell knowledge base article How to use the Dell Support Site to identify and install the drivers for your Dell PC.

After all of the appropriate drivers are installed, you will need to install software as well. Some of the software may be available for download and others may require a disk to install.

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If you require further assistance, please contact Technical Support

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