Author Topic: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?  (Read 636 times)

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Offline Intheswamp

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Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« on: December 07, 2018, 01:46:42 PM »
A buddy of mine has a Dell Inspiron 3543 laptop that is giving him fits.  He has/had Window 8.1 installed and has been plagued with it running slow and freezing.  I've tinkered with it and even trying reinstalling Windows 8.1 but it's still doing the same thing.  I'm an old stick-in-the-mud and the latest system that I'm really familiar with is Window 7.  Is it possible to downgrade this laptop from 8.1 to 7???  I've got a Windows 7 Pro installation disk (and a recovery disk for a home version) and he has a legitimate Windows 8/8.1 prodcut key.

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Offline WeatherHost

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2018, 02:20:47 PM »
I don't think you can use that key.  You can use them for upgrades in some cases, but unless it was 7, upgraded to 8, I don't think you can revert.

There should be legitimate 'new' copies of 7 out there though, and there may be legitimate keys.

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Offline Jstx

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2018, 02:56:41 PM »
A buddy of mine has a Dell Inspiron 3543 laptop that is giving him fits.  He has/had Window 8.1 installed and has been plagued with it running slow and freezing.  I've tinkered with it and even trying reinstalling Windows 8.1 but it's still doing the same thing.  I'm an old stick-in-the-mud and the latest system that I'm really familiar with is Window 7.  Is it possible to downgrade this laptop from 8.1 to 7???  I've got a Windows 7 Pro installation disk (and a recovery disk for a home version) and he has a legitimate Windows 8/8.1 prodcut key.

Should be possible to do this downgrade. See the Bing search link below (never use Google unless absolutely necessary).
Unless that laptop model is just incompatible with Win 8.1 (have you checked the Dell spec?), it might be better to try and fix it. Was the 'upgrade' to Win 8.1 busted in some way, was it done by a competent person? Could also be a hardware problem.
https://www.bing.com/search?q=downgrading+windows+8&form=OPRTSD&pc=OPER

There's a chance that the overall slowdown is just stupid Windows trying to update itself, which can be a slow, halting process, especially on slower machine (with maybe limited memory, etc).
When Win first gets an upgrade to a later version, what was initially loaded is always way behind on needed updates, so many of them get a high Win priority to be updated, which can bog a machine down for a couple of days after the initial load.
Later Win versions have minimized human 'update' intervention, they seize control of your machine and just update as they please. (it's just incredible that Windows, every version, has always needed huge numbers of 'security' patches; it's like when they designed it nobody even thought of security issues... /rant)

My main machine has suffered from a major slowdown for the last few weeks, it used to be a demon. I kept seeing a Windows (10) update task running at the top of CPU usage in Task Manager, but couldn't do anything about it.
Finally found out when doing a reboot that it was Win 10 doing a major update/grade in its' usual sneaky way. It took weeks mostly because of my often slow IP connection, I guess. I've known of the changes to Win update mechanisms for 8 and above for ages (have been a MS Windows beta tester since Win ME), but I've never seen one go so slowly and bog my machines down like this last one.

Seriously thinking of abandoning Windows. I'm still using Win ME, 7, 8, and 10 machines, plus a Linux I haven't had on in a while. Linux is another can of worms too, IMO.
I like a lot about Win10, but it also has so many agro factors (I began with various machine OS's before UNIX came from Kernigan and Richey's lab, then the first UNIX and it's 'children' OSs. Those were the days. Gates borrowed heavily from UNIX, like Torvald.).

Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2018, 03:33:15 PM »
Yeah, I've been looking at different pages talking about downgrading but one will be in conflict with another and they all seem like there's some extra hoops to jump through.

I just thought about it and I've got an old Dell SMF Optiplex with a valid product key.  As I seem to recall, though, there's some hoops to jump through in order to move that copy of Win7 to a different computer.  Hmm, time to do some more research.

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2018, 03:45:34 PM »
John, this slowdown had been going on for quiet some time.  The freezes had become more frequent...were talking one an hour or so...sometimes more often.

At first I tried to run Windows Update to be sure he had the current files...he doesn't like "snooping eyes" and was complaining about so many updates being forced on him.  When I looked there were many updates downloaded but none of them were installed...going back to 2015.  I ran sfc /scannow and that resulted in things checking ok.  Checked for malware, virus, etc.,.  Nothing.  Just would run slow and freeze.

I (incompetent me, and I say that seriously  ;)   :lol:) reinstalled Win8.1 the other night.  I had to do a search after it hung at 65% and would not proceed.  I found that people were reporting it taking 3 to 18 hours to move past the 65% mark.  I told my buddy "bye" and the next day it got past 65%...around 20 hours later!!!   When it finally got to a point where he had to add input he called me on the phone....he was impatient for his computer.<g>  Of course, sitting here unfamiliar with anything beyond Win7 (and not a computer whiz at that!) it was me talking on the phone with a kind of "deer in the headlights" look on my face. :shock:  I didn't hear from him until the following day when he said at first it was running slow but with no freeze-ups...but then by the evening it was freezing up again.  Maybe I'm in over my head, thus the question of downgrading to Win7.

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2018, 04:05:06 PM »
Oh well, it looks like I can't move the Win7 OS from the dead computer to another computer.  It appears that OEM Windows software lives and dies with the computer it was installed on.  :mad:

Maybe move from 8.1 to 10....???<sigh>

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Offline Jstx

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2018, 05:00:49 PM »
Oh well, it looks like I can't move the Win7 OS from the dead computer to another computer.  It appears that OEM Windows software lives and dies with the computer it was installed on.  :mad:

Maybe move from 8.1 to 10....???<sigh>

I wondered why, at this time-2018/9, he was going to Win 8.1 from Win 7. A move to Win 10 would make more sense, it's a much better OS.
But maybe he had an unused Win 8.1 OS just sitting on the shelf.
You can find Win 10 OS deals (OEM version or full) on 'special' at places like Newegg.com at very good prices, every few weeks they run a 'deal'.
It might be worth the expense of just going to Win 10 (never heard much good about 8, but many like 10 a lot).
I hope that he won't lose too much data or installed programs/apps in this. Win 10 is good about preserving "your stuff" most of the time. I've done a couple of 're-installs', without losing anything important.

Like I do, bought a Win 8 on a special deal real cheap, but never got around to installing it. Then Win 10 came out, and shortly after with a free MS upgrade deal for older OS's, so I upgraded a number of Win 7's to 10 for free. No, it wasn't exactly free, Win 10 is loaded with intrusive stuff. You have to go into it and turn off dozens of spy-like things. Unless you don't mind them.
Like with Google, if it looks to be free, the actual cost is your data/life, unless you clean it.
You can do a relatively easy downgrade from Win 10 back to 7 for some time after upgrading (Win 10 saves an 'image' of the old OS on disk- for some time- maybe forever?).
I thought about it, Win 10 has some big differences from 7, but once I got used to 10, I preferred it, and 7 had been my favorite Win.

Offline sacreyweather

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2018, 06:44:15 PM »
A buddy of mine has a Dell Inspiron 3543 laptop that is giving him fits.  He has/had Window 8.1 installed and has been plagued with it running slow and freezing.  I've tinkered with it and even trying reinstalling Windows 8.1 but it's still doing the same thing.  I'm an old stick-in-the-mud and the latest system that I'm really familiar with is Window 7.  Is it possible to downgrade this laptop from 8.1 to 7???  I've got a Windows 7 Pro installation disk (and a recovery disk for a home version) and he has a legitimate Windows 8/8.1 prodcut key.

Ed,

That machine should do Windows 7 without any issues, especially if he has at least 4 GB of RAM in it to use the 64bit version. I have always used Windows 7 since it came out, and still do on the 3 machines I have here. These machines will NOT be upgraded to Windows 10, period. Have you tried putting the DVD in, and when it comes up, will it allow you to do a complete install or is Windows 8 going "No, that isn't happening?" If Windows 8 is being the bad guy here, you may have to go into the BIOS and change it to when the system boots up, it boots first from the CD/DVD drive, then use the Windows 7 disk. Also, if you are able to get Windows 7 on his machine, his Windows 8/8.1 key will NOT work with it.


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Offline WeatherHost

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2018, 07:34:32 PM »
I wondered why, at this time-2018/9, he was going to Win 8.1 from Win 7. A move to Win 10 would make more sense, it's a much better OS.

Right. Like ME was better than XP.

People stay with XP and 7 because they work, without all the spyware added on.

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2018, 10:33:10 PM »
It's interesting, but I have four computers that I deal with...two laptops and two desktops.  One laptop is running XP and idles along running BeeWeather.com 24/7 and doesn't miss a beat.  The other three computers all have Windows 7 on them.  They just all "work".  When I saw my first Windows 8 screens with the big squares of apps I thought to myself "How cumbersome...a simple, clean desktop is much better".  So, I stayed with Win7.  Then I start hearing all the problems with Win8 and I was glad I stayed with 7.   I've no hankering to upgrade.

As for my buddy, I was trying to find the cheapest solution for him...he's disabled and on a limited income and takes care of his mother who is 92.  TV, his computer, tending a small garden, and caring for his mother is pretty much his life right now.  I think his problems would be solved if I could get him back to Windows7.  He doesn't do nearly the stuff I do on a computer and Win7 does what I need it to do.

So, is it pretty well understood that an OEM product key for Win7 won't transfer to a different machine?   I see on eBay where lots of the keys are being sold...but do they work?  They are stated as coming from "unused" pc's.  I could try the extra one I have first, I suppose. 

I'm not sure where he bought this laptop, he's had it a couple or three years.  But, there's no Microsoft Product Key tag on it anywhere.  :?

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Offline Bushman

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2018, 10:56:12 PM »
You understand wrong - a valid W7 key will work on ANY machine.  I  have done it numerous times.

Offline Jstx

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2018, 08:26:52 AM »
I wondered why, at this time-2018/9, he was going to Win 8.1 from Win 7. A move to Win 10 would make more sense, it's a much better OS.

Right. Like ME was better than XP.

People stay with XP and 7 because they work, without all the spyware added on.

You're totally misreading what I wrote. He was going to upgrade for some reason, which we don't know; maybe he got a deal on an 8.1 OS disk, 7 was acting up, or just wanted to move on.
In late 2018 moving from Win 7 to 8.1 (a crap OS by most) doesn't appear wise.
A move from Win 7 to 10 is a far better move. Win 10 is a much more stable, flexible, and efficient OS than any preceding Windows.

As I wrote, I was reluctant to even get the 'free' Win 10 upgrade for some of my machines (because I just like 7 too). I upgraded one Win 7 first (knowing that it was made easy by MS to go back to 7). Then I thoroughly checked it out, didn't like it much to start, but in a few days I saw its' clear superiority to 7 in many ways. I later, after a month or so, then upgraded a couple more systems to 10. It's just a matter of giving it a fair trial, and changing a few old habits.
I still run 2 or 3 Win 7's, and still like it a lot. But 10 beats 7 in many ways.
I also covered the Win 10 'spy' stuff, you can turn it off (hate crap like Cortana and the various 'search helps' stuff, just turn it off). What I really don't like is 10's update process, but it makes sense for most users, who won't safely maintain their own updates and security.

The biggest elephant in the room is that Windows 7 reaches it's absolute "end of life" on 14 Jan 2020, in a little more than 1 year (Pro version has a paid 'security updates' option until 2023). Win 7 is almost 9 years old since RTM, 7's mainstream support ended almost 3 years ago. Win 10 will be supported until 2025.
Another big elephant is that Win 10 (and 7 and all other OS's) will obsolete certain hardware and software that worked fine on the old OS. Some peripherals, like certain printers, etc., will not get their drivers updated/supported on the new OS, and become unusable; same with some software programs/apps, they become incompatible with the new OS.
I don't like either 'elephant', but that's progress (I have several expensive printers, scanners, etc that only work on an older OS (their manufacturers chose not to provide new drivers for 7 or 10; not Mcrosofts fault), which is partly why I still have the old ME/XP/7 systems).

As far as ME v. XP, XP was more stable and better in many ways than ME, but the older ME was a "9x" kernel while XP is an "NT", big diffs; neither are a 'great' OS like 7 or 10. Vista and 8 were misfires.
 (I began beta testing ME and XP for MS about a year before they were released; with many others. The same with 7 and 10, got free licensed OS sets and various goodies from it all)

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2018, 09:12:00 AM »
Thanks Bushman!!!!  Must of been some MS smoke.  I know the course of action, now.  The laptop, as I recall, is 64bit with 4gb of RAM.  Funny, must of been regressing some to my past as I first typed "4mb of RAM"...my first PC had 2mb of RAM which was an upgrade!!!<grin>.

Anyhow, the old computer is a Dell Optiplex 780(?) SMF that I used to run my downtown weathercam (non-existing now).  The computer croaked on me and I just decided not to pursue it.  The product key is just sitting there yellowing...might as well use it. ;) 

Reading online it appears that the Win7 installation cd will partition and format the hard drive, thus getting rid of everything on the hard drive.  Is that correct?

Thanks for the feedback, everybody.  I do appreciate it.  I just got off the phone with my buddy and I mentioned installing Win7.  He seems to think the Win8.1 installation is working "better"....still hanging, etc.,.  I'll give him a few days...I think it's just going to get worse.  We'll see.

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2018, 09:30:31 AM »
I wondered why, at this time-2018/9, he was going to Win 8.1 from Win 7. A move to Win 10 would make more sense, it's a much better OS.

Right. Like ME was better than XP.

People stay with XP and 7 because they work, without all the spyware added on.

You're totally misreading what I wrote. He was going to upgrade for some reason, which we don't know; maybe he got a deal on an 8.1 OS disk, 7 was acting up, or just wanted to move on.
In late 2018 moving from Win 7 to 8.1 (a crap OS by most) doesn't appear wise.
A move from Win 7 to 10 is a far better move. Win 10 is a much more stable, flexible, and efficient OS than any preceding Windows.

As I wrote, I was reluctant to even get the 'free' Win 10 upgrade for some of my machines (because I just like 7 too). I upgraded one Win 7 first (knowing that it was made easy by MS to go back to 7). Then I thoroughly checked it out, didn't like it much to start, but in a few days I saw its' clear superiority to 7 in many ways. I later, after a month or so, then upgraded a couple more systems to 10. It's just a matter of giving it a fair trial, and changing a few old habits.
I still run 2 or 3 Win 7's, and still like it a lot. But 10 beats 7 in many ways.
I also covered the Win 10 'spy' stuff, you can turn it off (hate crap like Cortana and the various 'search helps' stuff, just turn it off). What I really don't like is 10's update process, but it makes sense for most users, who won't safely maintain their own updates and security.

The biggest elephant in the room is that Windows 7 reaches it's absolute "end of life" on 14 Jan 2020, in a little more than 1 year (Pro version has a paid 'security updates' option until 2023). Win 7 is almost 9 years old since RTM, 7's mainstream support ended almost 3 years ago. Win 10 will be supported until 2025.
Another big elephant is that Win 10 (and 7 and all other OS's) will obsolete certain hardware and software that worked fine on the old OS. Some peripherals, like certain printers, etc., will not get their drivers updated/supported on the new OS, and become unusable; same with some software programs/apps, they become incompatible with the new OS.
I don't like either 'elephant', but that's progress (I have several expensive printers, scanners, etc that only work on an older OS (their manufacturers chose not to provide new drivers for 7 or 10; not Mcrosofts fault), which is partly why I still have the old ME/XP/7 systems).

As far as ME v. XP, XP was more stable and better in many ways than ME, but the older ME was a "9x" kernel while XP is an "NT", big diffs; neither are a 'great' OS like 7 or 10. Vista and 8 were misfires.
 (I began beta testing ME and XP for MS about a year before they were released; with many others. The same with 7 and 10, got free licensed OS sets and various goodies from it all)
John, I really appreciate the feedback but I think you misread me.  My buddy's laptop has Win8.1 installed on it and is the problem OS... I was interested in downgrading(?) it to Win7, which I use daily and am familiar with.  As far as I know Win7 has never been installed on his laptop.  If my buddy decides to move on from Win8.1 the inexpensive route for him would be to install Win7 using the product key that I have onhand.  He's in no way a power user...no word-processing, graphics, spreadsheets, etc.,...just surfing the net and playing a few low-power games.

Having said all of that, your mention of the elephant in the room is something to consider...for my personal computers, too.  Before going the Win7 route I'll mention this to my buddy as it definitely is something to consider.   I've also ran into an OS obsoleting a piece of equipment...Win7 and an Epson flatbed scanner that I had, the scanner was suddenly, for all practical purposes, dead.  Looks like Win10 product keys are available on eBay fairly plentiful.

Shoot, I'm wondering about my own home system now.  It's a Dell Optiplex 780 64-bit machine...already 8 years old.   :-k

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Offline WeatherHost

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2018, 10:59:20 AM »
When money is an issue, I find I can get better older machines far less costly than new.  I can still find Win7Pro 'off lease' business class laptops/notebooks for under $200, sometimes under $100

They often have larger screens too.  I prefer a 17" over the scrunched down 14" or less that seems common in newer one.

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Offline Bushman

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2018, 11:48:39 AM »
...I've also ran into an OS obsoleting a piece of equipment...Win7 and an Epson flatbed scanner that I had, the scanner was suddenly, for all practical purposes, dead.  Looks like Win10 product keys are available on eBay fairly plentiful.

Shoot, I'm wondering about my own home system now.  It's a Dell Optiplex 780 64-bit machine...already 8 years old.   :-k

Same here on the scanner; my Epson scanner is at least  a decade old but I was able to buy from Epson the one last Win 7 update to keep it functioning.  They claim it will also work on W10, but this machine will stay on 7.

And my Toshiba laptop is over 9 years old now!  2GB RAM (although I have considered upgrading to 4 GB for about $120 USD) and 64 bit W7 - won't even handle W10!!  Unfortunately I missed the bet laptop Black Friday Deal on Lenovo's site so now I'm waiting for Boxing Day.  ;)

Offline Jstx

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2018, 04:27:19 PM »

Quote
John, I really appreciate the feedback but I think you misread me.  My buddy's laptop has Win8.1 installed on it and is the problem OS... I was interested in downgrading(?) it to Win7, which I use daily and am familiar with.  As far as I know Win7 has never been installed on his laptop.  If my buddy decides to move on from Win8.1 the inexpensive route for him would be to install Win7 using the product key that I have onhand.  He's in no way a power user...no word-processing, graphics, spreadsheets, etc.,...just surfing the net and playing a few low-power games.

Having said all of that, your mention of the elephant in the room is something to consider...for my personal computers, too.  Before going the Win7 route I'll mention this to my buddy as it definitely is something to consider.   I've also ran into an OS obsoleting a piece of equipment...Win7 and an Epson flatbed scanner that I had, the scanner was suddenly, for all practical purposes, dead.  Looks like Win10 product keys are available on eBay fairly plentiful.

Shoot, I'm wondering about my own home system now.  It's a Dell Optiplex 780 64-bit machine...already 8 years old.   :-k

OK, that changes things.
If his machine came (new?) with a working Win 8.1 OS, and had been running +- troublefree for some time that brings up a different set of potential hardware and software problems.
As a laptop, is there a cooling problem? Fan(s) not working, or the insides choked with dustbunnies?
It could be a hard drive beginning to fail, Windows has always been pretty stupid handling disk problems, and it has symptoms very much as described-- an apparent halting and freezing action as the BIOS and maybe disk firmware attempt a sector test/repair/replacement, complicated by Windows own disk error handling.
Has he loaded any possibly problematic software recently?

And now the big, and perhaps most likely item item-- the machine may be infected with some form of malware.
There are various ways of finding and cleaning such stuff. I would recommend downloading a copy of Comodo's A/V, the one designed for use on a USB stick. Set his machine's BIOS to attempt booting from the USB before the hard drive. Let it boot on the Comodo USB and run it. It might find a virus or whatever (have left out many steps, this is a project for the skilled).

If there is little needed data or programs (which could be reloaded relatively easy later) on the machine, or that can be backed up in between freezes, than a 'factory reset' of the OS might work. Most brand name machines have a hidden disk partition that holds a 'original factory image' that can be reverted to. Then everything has to be updated and reloaded; but at least the machine is recovered.
Windows 10 (and maybe 7) can often successfully do a 'soft' OS reset, which preserves all (or most of) of your 'stuff', while reinitializing Windows itself.

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2018, 07:46:03 PM »
When money is an issue, I find I can get better older machines far less costly than new.  I can still find Win7Pro 'off lease' business class laptops/notebooks for under $200, sometimes under $100

They often have larger screens too.  I prefer a 17" over the scrunched down 14" or less that seems common in newer one.
<chuckle> I know what you mean.  The computer at the shop is a eBay "refurb", as is the home computer.  Even the little Dell laptop running XP and Cumulus was a ~$90 refurbished (wiped off with a rag?) one.   The laptop was an XP but all of the other ones have been Win7 computers.

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2018, 07:50:29 PM »
...I've also ran into an OS obsoleting a piece of equipment...Win7 and an Epson flatbed scanner that I had, the scanner was suddenly, for all practical purposes, dead.  Looks like Win10 product keys are available on eBay fairly plentiful.

Shoot, I'm wondering about my own home system now.  It's a Dell Optiplex 780 64-bit machine...already 8 years old.   :-k

Same here on the scanner; my Epson scanner is at least  a decade old but I was able to buy from Epson the one last Win 7 update to keep it functioning.  They claim it will also work on W10, but this machine will stay on 7.

And my Toshiba laptop is over 9 years old now!  2GB RAM (although I have considered upgrading to 4 GB for about $120 USD) and 64 bit W7 - won't even handle W10!!  Unfortunately I missed the bet laptop Black Friday Deal on Lenovo's site so now I'm waiting for Boxing Day.  ;)
Yeah, my next major upgrade will be a Win10 computer.  When MS stops supplying security updates I'll have to start studying hard and long at at least upgrading to Win10 at home.  And I remember when I begrudgingly moved from DOS to Win3.1...time flies when you're havin' fun.  :roll:

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Offline CW2274

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2018, 08:00:33 PM »
The last thing on my resume is computer expert, but I dreaded going from 7 to 10 but have found it probably the best Win yet for a novice such as myself. The auto updates shoved down ones throat suck so I just set the timer to do it at 4am.

Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2018, 08:12:59 PM »

Quote
John, I really appreciate the feedback but I think you misread me.  My buddy's laptop has Win8.1 installed on it and is the problem OS...

OK, that changes things.
If his machine came (new?) with a working Win 8.1 OS, and had been running +- troublefree for some time that brings up a different set of potential hardware and software problems.
As a laptop, is there a cooling problem? Fan(s) not working, or the insides choked with dustbunnies?
It could be a hard drive beginning to fail, Windows has always been pretty stupid handling disk problems, and it has symptoms very much as described-- an apparent halting and freezing action as the BIOS and maybe disk firmware attempt a sector test/repair/replacement, complicated by Windows own disk error handling.
Has he loaded any possibly problematic software recently?

And now the big, and perhaps most likely item item-- the machine may be infected with some form of malware.
There are various ways of finding and cleaning such stuff. I would recommend downloading a copy of Comodo's A/V, the one designed for use on a USB stick. Set his machine's BIOS to attempt booting from the USB before the hard drive. Let it boot on the Comodo USB and run it. It might find a virus or whatever (have left out many steps, this is a project for the skilled).

If there is little needed data or programs (which could be reloaded relatively easy later) on the machine, or that can be backed up in between freezes, than a 'factory reset' of the OS might work. Most brand name machines have a hidden disk partition that holds a 'original factory image' that can be reverted to. Then everything has to be updated and reloaded; but at least the machine is recovered.
Windows 10 (and maybe 7) can often successfully do a 'soft' OS reset, which preserves all (or most of) of your 'stuff', while reinitializing Windows itself.
My buddy has nothing, no docs, photos, etc., nothing, that he wants to save.  I think there are two problems.  The first one is he needs to start from scratch, wiping the drive clean.  Secondly, he needs to move away from Win8/8.1, either downgrade to Win7 or upgrade to Win10. 

I checked for overheating.  He's kind of a neat-freak and has the laptop sitting on a piece of cloth but it seems to be getting plenty of air, no dustbunnies in the rabbit holes.  The bottom of the case seemed a little warmer than ambient, definitely not hot.  Running a hardware stress test is something I haven't done and I see that Dell has some available both online and off.  I'll probably see my buddy this week and we might try that one of those tests.

On a side note, I recovered a Win7 desktop for my oldest granddaughter today.  An old system that her parents had basically junked out.  She's a bright kid and had tried to get it working.  I picked up a WiFi dongle from eBay, used F8 and went into "Repair".  Chose not save anything.  Hours later I had Win7 installed, Service Pack 1 installed with all updates and rolling along with a virus scanner installed along with a few programs.  It was running, and should continue, to run great.  Amazing what a difference it is working on a Win7 machine and a Win8 machine!!!!  Give me the Win7 anytime!!!

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Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2018, 08:16:35 PM »
The last thing on my resume is computer expert, but I dreaded going from 7 to 10 but have found it probably the best Win yet for a novice such as myself. The auto updates shoved down ones throat suck so I just set the timer to do it at 4am.
Shoot, computer expert ain't even *on* my resume!!!  :grin:  I can follow directions pretty good...some of the time.

That sounds good about Win10.  My father got smarter the older I got....I didn't though, matter of fact I think I'm gettin' dumber!!!!  I still manage to find my way to the feed trough, though!!!  ;)

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Offline Jstx

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2018, 09:49:20 PM »
Quote
author=Intheswamp #20
My buddy has nothing, no docs, photos, etc., nothing, that he wants to save.  I think there are two problems.  The first one is he needs to start from scratch, wiping the drive clean.  Secondly, he needs to move away from Win8/8.1, either downgrade to Win7 or upgrade to Win10. 

I checked for overheating.  He's kind of a neat-freak and has the laptop sitting on a piece of cloth but it seems to be getting plenty of air, no dustbunnies in the rabbit holes.  The bottom of the case seemed a little warmer than ambient, definitely not hot.  Running a hardware stress test is something I haven't done and I see that Dell has some available both online and off.  I'll probably see my buddy this week and we might try that one of those tests.

On a side note, I recovered a Win7 desktop for my oldest granddaughter today.  An old system that her parents had basically junked out.  She's a bright kid and had tried to get it working.  I picked up a WiFi dongle from eBay, used F8 and went into "Repair".  Chose not save anything.  Hours later I had Win7 installed, Service Pack 1 installed with all updates and rolling along with a virus scanner installed along with a few programs.  It was running, and should continue, to run great.  Amazing what a difference it is working on a Win7 machine and a Win8 machine!!!!  Give me the Win7 anytime!!!

Laptops should always sit on a hard surface with some airspace (on their 'feet' or small blocks, whatever). That 'piece of cloth' can't be good.
Some models are so notorious for overheating that there is a whole class of 'laptop cooler bases' you can buy; they are basically stands with fans.

There are apps that will give you various internal system readings, temperatures included. There are probably 2-3 temp sensors inside, plus most disks have them.
The absolute best program to do this is called "Speccy", from Piriform  , free version available. It examines in great detail about everything there is to know about a machine's hardware and software (its' 'specs').
Piriform has several other most excellent utility programs (free versions available). www.piriform.com

Sounds like you did a 'manufacturers hidden partition' recovery of your grandaughters 'old' machine, not a clean install from DVD.

Your buddies Dell should have the procedure for reverting to the original 'factory' OS documented (assuming that it is still intact), online if he doesn't have a manual.
This 'factory' reset does not involve wiping the hard drive (as such-- a total one), it reloads the original OS from the backup/hidden drive partition (Speccy will also show an analysis of the hard drive(s), among many other things showing the partitions).
Once Win 8.1 is reloaded an up or downgrade should be possible to 10 or 7.
I strongly recommend Win 10 in this (his) case. Win 10 is inherently far more secure, will update and protect itself automatically, comes with a competent firewall and A/V built in, and is much more stable. Especially for a casual user.
Win 10 can be easily configured with an interface that looks like Win 7 (the traditional/classic look and feel) instead of that stupid "Metro" one that 8 defaults to (8 also can be made to have a classic look).
I also recommend the (free version) Comodo CIS A/V-firewall-lots of otherstuff program. And run (free) MalWareBytes every week at least.
Plus everybody should be using the Opera browser almost exclusively (on all of your devices, systems, OS's--from Win to Android/Apple/Linux/etc).
Opera is simply the best, most secure, most full-featured browser there is (Opera has been around a long time, it has pioneered many of our modern browser features).
www.opera.com
MS Edge is the default Win 10 browser, it's secure and OK, but is slow, hangs, clumsy, and 'spies' on you. Leave it as the default, but actively use Opera.
Wouldn't touch Google Chrome with a ten foot usb stick.

Look all of these up on Wikipedia for more info and verification.



Offline WeatherHost

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2018, 11:52:22 PM »
Opera ain't Opera no more.  It's been pushed around, shoved around and sat upon so much it barely resembles it's former self.

Banners, tags, widgets, etc. are why I have Signatures turned off.

Offline Intheswamp

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Re: Can I downgrade a laptop from Win8.1 to Win7?
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2018, 09:31:16 AM »
Yep, no DVD involved with the work on the granddaughters computer...all "redo" was from within the computer itself.  That's the first time I've ever done that, and it worked like a charm...other than taking all day to download and install things.  :roll:  But, she was happy as a lark when she got home and saw the results, so it was all worth it.  ;)

As for my buddy's laptop and its temperature...  Yeah, I wasn't keen about it sitting on the towel.  I may download the Piriform Speccy and give it a twirl on his laptop.  Thanks for the recommendation! 

Seems I ran Opera years ago, a kind of barebones browser back then which worked well.  I haven't looked at it in years.  I might give that a shot, too.  My buddy did download Firefox and install it...he seems happier with the familiar screens...his computer experience is sitting in front of a browser window...that is "windows" to him.  :-)

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