Q: I have tried it and I can't stand Windows 8. Can I go back to Windows 7, even on a new computer that had Windows 8 pre-installed?
A: Windows 8 Pro machines are eligible for "downgrade rights" to run an older version of Windows, but check with your computer's manufacturer to see what is involved. It may be possible to get a Windows 7 installation disc or download if you do not already have a copy of the system. Dell, for example, has information at dell.to/Uy7dWC.
You should also check whether there are any technical support issues with installing the older system on the computer, as some drivers and the software may not work properly if they were designed for Windows 8. Microsoft has its own page of information on downgrade rights at bit.ly/dItaAr.
If you are running a different version of Windows 8 or just want to make the downgrade yourself, you need to have a copy of Windows 7 to install on the computer. Microsoft still sells the system at bit.ly/Wo9bFF, and you can find it on other sites that sell software. Before you install the new system, back up your files and be prepared to reinstall all your programs.
As a security measure, Windows 8 uses the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) instead of the older BIOS software that earlier PCs used to control basic system functions. While UEFI can prevent malicious software from booting up with the computer, its Secure Boot feature can also hinder the use of other operating systems on the computer. Sample instructions for disabling the Secure Boot can be found at dell.to/QU8Cam.
If downgrading the computer to Windows 7 is beginning to sound like too much bother, some online guides to the new system may help you feel more comfortable with Windows 8. Microsoft has its own set of "Get to Know Windows" tutorials at bit.ly/SejjTr, but third-party guides like those found at Tom's Hardware (bit.ly/Sd8wXf) or Gizmodo (bit.ly/VtllNa) may have a more objective point of view about using the new system. Gizmodo even suggests creating a hard drive partition to have both systems on the computer.