Restoring Windows 7 after a Windows 8 install

A few weeks ago I upgraded one of my Windows 7 machines to Windows 8. There was a few hiccups, but eventually it worked. The upgrade process was very smooth. All my apps, programs, and documents remained intact. Since this upgrade went relatively well, I figured I’d try to upgrade another machine.

I was curious about Microsoft’s “N” builds (the main difference is they don’t include Windows Media Player by default). So I upgraded my Windows 7 machine using one of these “N” editions. I figured everything would go well. It didn’t.

I found after the install that ALL of my programs had been uninstalled and moved to a folder called “Windows.old”. I didn’t like this so I decided I wanted to revert to my old install. I did some googling and luckily Microsoft provides instructions on how to do this here (this says it’s for Vista, but works with 7). I also found another guide that that was specifically geared toward Windows 8 and Windows 7.

I’ve decided to copy the relevant instructions here for future reference.

Step 1: Determine whether there is a Windows.OLD folder and whether there is sufficient free space on the Windows hard disk

  1. Click Start, and then click Computer.
  2. On the View menu, click Details.
  3. In the Free Space column, note how much space is available for Local Disk (C:) under the Hard Disk Drives area.
  4. In the Hard Disk Drives area, double-click Local Disk (C:), and then determine whether the Windows.OLD folder exists.Important If the Windows.OLD folder does not exist, you cannot follow the steps in this article to restore the previous Windows installation to this computer.
  5. Right-click the Windows.OLD folder.
  6. Windows Vista will determine the size of the folder after several seconds.

Determine whether the Windows.OLD folder is smaller than the free space that is available for Local Disk (C:) in step 2.

Note If the Windows.OLD folder is two times as large as the free space that is available for the Local Disk (C:) entry, you may be unable to restore the previous Windows installation.

Step 2: Start the Windows Recovery Environment

  1. Put the Windows Vista installation disc in the DVD drive, and then restart the computer.
  2. Press a key when you are prompted to restart from the disc.
  3. In the Install Windows window, select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard input method or other input method, and then click Next.
  4. In the Install Windows window, click Repair your computer.
  5. In the System Recovery Options window, click the version of the Windows Vista operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  6. In the System Recovery Options window, click Command Prompt.

The Command Prompt window opens, and it displays the command prompt. The command prompt is where you will type the commands that are described in the following steps.

Step 3: Rename the Windows Vista folders

Note When you type one or more of the commands at the command prompt in the following steps in this section, and you then press ENTER, you may receive the following message:

The system cannot find the file specified.

If you receive this message, go to the next step in this section, and then type the command in that next step.

Type the following commands at the command prompt:

  1. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    c:
  2. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren Windows Windows.Vista
  3. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren “Program Files” “Program Files.Vista”
  4. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren “Users” “Users.Vista”
  5. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren “Documents and Settings” “Documents and Settings.Vista”

Step 4: Copy the contents or move the contents of the Windows.OLD folder

Type the following commands at the command prompt:

  1. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    move /y c:\windows.old\windows c:\
  2. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    move /y “c:\windows.old\program files” c:\ 

Type one of the following commands at the command prompt, as appropriate for your situation.

When the previous Windows installation was Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows XP, or Microsoft Windows 2000

  • Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    move /y “c:\windows.old\documents and settings” c:\ 

When the previous Windows installation was a different version of Windows Vista

  • Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    move /y c:\windows.old\users c:\

Step 5: Restore the boot sector for the previous Windows installation

Type one of the following commands at the command prompt, as appropriate for your situation.

Note D: represents the DVD drive in the following commands. If the DVD drive on the computer is represented by a different letter, such as E:, use that letter in the command.

  • When the previous Windows installation was Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows XP, or Microsoft Windows 2000Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    D:\boot\bootsect /nt52 c:
  • When the previous Windows installation was a different version of Windows VistaType the following command, and then press ENTER:
    D:\boot\bootsect /nt60 c:

Step 6: Restore the Boot.ini file for the previous Windows installation of Windows XP or of Windows 2000

Note Only follow these steps when the previous installation is Windows XP or Windows 2000.

Type the following commands at the command prompt:

  1. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    c:
  2. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    attrib boot.ini.saved -s -h -r
  3. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren “boot.ini.saved” “boot.ini”
  4. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    attrib boot.ini +s +h +r

Step 7: Close the Command Prompt window, and then click Restart

  1. Type the following command at the command prompt, and then press ENTER:
    exit
  2. Click Restart.

The previous Windows installation will start.

One Reply to “Restoring Windows 7 after a Windows 8 install”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *