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I've recently bought myself a laptop (Asus N56VZ) last December. Everything was great, but it came pre-loaded with Windows 8, which I'd like to get rid off. And I will.

However, I'm a bit paranoid about problems, and while the laptop comes with a one-year warranty, here in my home country, retailers will do anything and everything they can to back out from it, which includes not honoring any hardware-related problems, because I "broke it when I installed Windows 7."

So comes my question. I've been reading about going back to Windows 7 here, and combined with my general knowledge of Windows 8, I've come up with the following:

  • Pre-installed Windows 8 does NOT come with a Serial Number, sticker or otherwise. It's built into the laptop.
  • There's an unusable hard drive partition (in my case, 3) that might have something to do with Windows 8.
  • Windows 8 uses UEFI, so I kinda have to dig for settings to bring back the boot menu.

So, here are my questions:

  • Would reformatting my hard drive remove this serial key? Or is it stored somewhere else accessible to Windows 8 only?
  • What happens if I format the recovery partition? Can I use it for files? Does Windows 7 use recovery partitions?
  • I kinda like the Windows 8's boot-up. It shows nothing but the manufacturer's Logo, then goes straight to Windows. No boot-screen, no press this for boot menu, just a clean screen. I assume this is UEFI at work. Can Windows 7 do the same thing?

Assuming I did reformat my hard drives, deleted the recovery partition so the previously unusable 20GB can now be used for files, and otherwise configured Windows 7 to work the way I want it to, do I just download an ISO image of Windows 8, burn it to a DVD, put it in the disc, boot from it and expect Windows 8 to work?

Thanks to any and all who will answer.

Regards, Zack_Falcon

share|improve this question
You can find your activation key by right-clicking My Computer, selecting properties, and scrolling all the way down. – Jeffrey Lin Jan 17 '13 at 0:45
up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. The key is stored in the BIOS, not on the hard disk.

  2. Nothing will happen if you delete the recovery partition, except you will no longer be able to reset the laptop back to factory defaults by pressing the assigned recovery key (sequence) while booting up. The freed up space can be used for anything you want. Windows 7 normally creates a 100 MB System Reserved partition of its own, although that can be skipped if you install it to a pre-partitioned disk.

  3. No, Windows 8's graphical bootloader and fast bootup sequence can't be replicated by Windows 7, due to significant architecture changes in the newer OS.

Where do you propose to download an ISO of Windows 8 from anyway? Do you have access to a legal copy?

My recommendation is to leave the recovery partition alone, and further create any recovery DVDs as suggested by Asus. That way you can format and install Windows 7, and whenever required wipe everything and restore the laptop to its original configuration.

If you absolutely must remove the recovery partition and use that space for your files, clone the entire drive using something like Clonezilla, Acronis True Image or the like, so you can restore it to its original state. Then you can do anything you want since you have a full-drive image backup to fall back on (just make sure it actually works!)

share|improve this answer
I'm actually not sure where to get another Windows 8 disc. I suppose I can borrow one from a friend. Since it uses the built-in serial numbers, I don't think it counts as 'illegal'. – zack_falcon Jan 16 '13 at 6:58
If you want to prevent warranty issues you might need to revert to an as-new state, which is what a drive image will help you do. The Win8 DVD might activate using the key in the BIOS, but obviously won't help you recover any partitions you deleted. – Karan Jan 16 '13 at 7:02
I'm good with not being able to recover partitions and stuff, as long as I can fool them into thinking nothing happened to it, internally. If it's Windows 8, it's Windows 8. This is from the fine gentlemen that insist that installing another OS will cause physical hardware damage, and wasn't cause by, you know, defective parts. – zack_falcon Jan 18 '13 at 9:30

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