Ask Leo: Can I switch back to Windows XP from Windows 7?


By Leo Notenboom

At present, I’m running Windows 7 and find it really complicated. Is it
possible to change back to Windows XP Home Edition which is easier to use?

Yes, it’s possible.

It’s a bit of work and I’ll review what it means to do that.


I’ll also share with you my thoughts on why I believe doing so would be a

Windows XP – Back to the future

Reverting any machine capable of running Windows XP back to it – known as
“downgrading” – is actually very simple: get a copy and install it.

And, if your machine is capable of running Windows 7, then it’s probably quite capable of running Windows XP.

However, that “get a copy and install it” glosses over a lot of
work. In more detailed steps:

  • •Get a copy of XP: You might have a copy lying around that
    you’re not using anymore. OEM discs don’t count, as they’ll typically only
    work on a specific manufacturer’s machine and they’re often legally restricted
    to only those machines. If you don’t have a Windows XP install disc that you
    can use legally, you’ll have to purchase one. You might find Windows XP on the secondary market, some retail stores, auction sites or more. For the record, you’re not
    “entitled” to a copy of Windows XP if you don’t like Windows 7; you’ll have to purchase or acquire a separate, legal copy of Windows XP.

  • •Back up: Installing Windows XP from scratch
    will typically erase everything on your computer. The only thing that you can do is back up everything first. Make sure that you do this to avoid losing valuable

  • •Reformat/Install: Install Windows XP by using the reformat
    operation to clean off the hard disk as part of the installation. How do I
    reformat and reinstall Windows?
    has the process.

  • Reinstall applications: Reinstall all of the applications that you
    had that were separate from Windows. You’ll need their original installation
    media and/or downloads.

  • •Restore data: Copy all of the data that you’d been keeping on your computer prior to this operation from your backup or any other convenient storage place that you used.

That’s it. You’re running Windows XP. Welcome to 2001. Smile

Why this is a mistake…Article continued here

This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his blog.

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9 thoughts on “Ask Leo: Can I switch back to Windows XP from Windows 7?”

  1. Beware! In some cases it is likely that a laptop designed to run Vista or Windows 7 will have SATA drives which XP cannot “see” without appropriate AHCI SATA drivers being loaded at the installation stage. XP only recognises IDE drives. Sometimes changes can be made in the BIOS to work around this issue, but manufacturers often decline to write these options into the BIOS (e.g. HP) thus effectively denying the possibility of downgrading.

  2. Another obstacle that stands in the way in my case is the fact that many of these newer machines are 64bit instead of the older 32bit machines as they were in 2001 when WinXP came out. I was a big fan and much prefer WinXp and even Win98 to Win7. I learned on DOS and have always been one to “look inside” and see whats where. I can’t see squat on Win 7 and can’t find my programs that I’ve downloaded or even my pictures or anything. It seems I don’t have the proper permissions, even though I am the only user and the Administrator.

  3. Esjay hit it real close in my opinion key things are make sure your motherboard chipset drivers can be found that will be compatible with the OS you are going to use many will be but some can not be so do your reasearch before doing it and it is a time consuming job.

  4. Some laptops will not allow the hard drive to be reformatted into NTFS format after they have Windows 7 installed so check first

  5. WXP-> approx. 3.5 GB space occupied, W7 all the space it can find 🙂
    64 % of the companies are still running XP, 71 % of home users are still running XP. XP will leave as long as every user is not insane and knows how to keep its XP copy (genuine or hacked) and its rrespective drivers saved on a DVD; security support issues from 2014 “not provided” it’s pure bullshit. XP is by far the best OS from Windows (reliable, small space consumer, easy even for those who are not so familiar with PCs, a.o.).

  6. Glad that you answered this question. I have a new machine with 7 on it and have thought about reverting it back to XP. I still have XP on another machine and find myself using it more and more all the time. I will leave 7 alone and force myself to deal with it. I have to leave my comfy zone sometime. Thanks Leo!

  7. DO NOT leave the external hard disk connected to the computer when you install XP. It will render the external drive unreadable. How do I know?…….. lesson learned!!

  8. I was just about to downgrade my new Acer notebook to XP when I thought about the driver issue. Where do you get old drivers for new machines? Answer – nowhere in most cases. So, sure it’s relatively easy to change the OS, but you have a very good chance of ending up with a doorstop. If you’re going to do it, round up the drivers first, before you obtain a copy of XP and sally forth.

  9. Leo, You skipped one of the most critical “downgrading” chores: get and install all the drivers required once you wipe the newer OS. Not all drivers are backward compatible, so it is often not just a case of backing up your driver set, but going to the manufacturer for compatible drivers. I had to do this in a nightmare “downgrade?” from Vista to XP. Be ready to invest a good amount of time.

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