Windows 10 has improved a lot since its initial release in 2015, but if you need, or just prefer, to use an older version of Windows  for software compatibility, it is still practical to to install Windows 7 – instead of Windows 10.

Note that if you have a new computer, with the latest technology and hardware, there may be a limit imposed on you using it’s full potential under the older Windows7. Some of the new chipsets have no matching driver support made available under Windows 7. Please refer to this link on why Windows 7 won’t work on Intel’s current & next gen CPUs. If your computer is one of the older generation, say 2016 or earlier, then Windows 7 is likely to work very well with your hardware. If your computer was made in 2018, the chances for using Windows 7 are slim, other using a Virtual Windows Machine method – this Virtual method will work with any new computer and you can keep Windows 10 as well..

The process to install Windows 7 is going to be manual  – so you need to back up your current files, prepare or find a Windows 7  installation media, and have a OS product key to to  validate the installation of Windows 7.

What you will need

Back up any  important computer files to a external drive or perhaps use a large enough cloud storage service, as long as it separate from the Windows computer you intend to place Windows 7 on.  You will need to get have installation media for any required programs, such as Microsoft Office, or any others that require activation codes or serial numbers to be inserted.

Prepare by downloading any essential device drivers for your computer’s various components before you begin the installation process. This will make it easier to get essential devices working such as networks – either WiFi or Ethernet, as Windows 7 does not always have the appropriate drivers. This is particularly true for Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Video drivers.

Use a bootable USB drive with Windows 7
Use a bootable USB drive with Windows 7

For the Windows 7 installation, you will need to use use a DVD (external or internal),  or alternatively, you can create a bootable USB drive with a Windows 7 ISO.

Obviously, you will need the Windows product key – this is the 25-digit code that is either on the Windows 7 retail box or stuck on the outside case of the Computer (or Laptop base).

Using Windows 7

Despite the passage of time (years), Windows 7 remains of strong interest to power users looking to replicate or fix old software, or people who need use older software. In such cases a clean install of Windows 7 on a system already running Windows 10, is about the only simple way to achieve this goal.

Bootable USB prepared with Windows 7
Bootable USB prepared with Windows 7

You can reinstall Windows from scratch using the product key that came with your PC, but you’ll have to find installation media yourself. Microsoft offers free ISO files for downloading; you just have to know where to look.

Download the Windows 7 SP1 ISO Directly From Microsoft’s Website

Microsoft makes the Windows 7 SP1 ISO available for direct download through their site. The only catch is that you’ll need a valid product key in order to download the file–and OEM keys (like the one that came on a sticker under your laptop) won’t work. If that’s you, proceed to the next section.

If you do have a valid retail key, head to the Windows 7 download page, enter your product key, and click “Verify” to start the download process.

Windows 7 Product Key
Windows 7 Product Key

After your product key is verified, select the product language you want to download and then click “Confirm.”

Verfied Product confirmation
Verfied Product confirmation

Next, choose whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7. When you click whichever version you want, the download will begin. Note that download links generated by the site are only valid for 24 hours. Of course, you could always come back and walk through the verification and selection process again to generate new links.

Choose 32-bit – or 64-bit Windows 7 download

After downloading the ISO file, you can burn it to a DVD by right-clicking it in Windows Explorer and selecting “Burn disc image” to burn it to a disc. If you want to install Windows 7 from a USB drive, the best way is to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to put that ISO file onto a USB drive.

Burning the downloaded ISO to DVD
Burning the downloaded ISO to DVD

The downloaded ISO you’ll get from Microsoft includes Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. When you install Windows 7, you can avoid the hassle of downloading and installing the hundreds of updates that came out after SP1 by installing the Windows 7 SP1 Convenience Rollup. Even better, why not take a little extra time and slipstream the Convenience Rollup right into your Windows 7 ISO? That way, whenever you install Windows 7 in the future, you’ll have one ISO with all the updates (at least up through May 2016) already included.

Download Any Windows or Office ISO Using a Free Third-Party Tool

Microsoft used to make all these ISOs available through a site called Digital River, but it doesn’t anymore. Instead, they’re stored on its TechBench site. The ISOs can be hard to find, though, and for versions of Windows other than the most current, the site tries really hard to push you into using the Media Creation Tool instead. Enter the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool. This free utility provides a simple interface that lets you select the version of Windows you want, then downloads an ISO for that version straight from Microsoft’s download servers. This includes various builds of the Windows 10 Insider Preview. You can also use the tool to download ISOs for certain versions of Microsoft Office (Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, and Office for Mac).

First, head over to HeiDoc.net and grab the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool. It’s free and it’s a portable tool, so there’s no installation. Just launch the executable file. In the main window, choose the version of Windows or Office you’d like to download.

Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool
Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool

In the past, Microsoft provided disk images for many of their products through their subcontractor “Digital River”. These downloads were pulled in early 2014. Afterwards, Microsoft made a limited selection of downloads available on their TechBench site. The above tool accesses that TechBench site, and unlocks a large number of hidden download files on it.


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