Say, for instance, I don't like this Windows 8 consumer preview and that I downloaded, agreed to terms and installed it on my machine. How do I get rid of it?

I want to go back to what I had before with all my data intact. Is this possible? I installed it right over top my current installation rather than on another partition or perhaps a backup machine.

What can I do?

  • 4
    in the future it might be good to do an install in a virtual machine before deploying it to your physical machine
    – Mark S.
    Mar 1, 2012 at 12:26
  • @MarkScrano Absolutely. Or to do the install on another partition or a back-up box. VM is always a good idea Mar 1, 2012 at 13:08
  • My Windows 8 is a PAIN to install in a VM, haven't had the patience to figure out my problems yet.
    – cutrightjm
    Apr 20, 2012 at 2:19
  • @ekaj I had absolutely no issues with it, both dev and consumer previews, in VMware. Just pretend it's a windows 7.
    – Daniel Beck
    Apr 22, 2012 at 6:34
  • @DanielBeck It's taking like FOREVER to do anything, and when it finally does get somewhere it complains about the "cannot read product key file" or something..
    – cutrightjm
    Apr 22, 2012 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


If you created a second partition and installed it to the second partition while leaving your original installation of Windows 7/XP/etc on the primary drive, then yes you CAN uninstall it while retaining your old boot sector. The steps are easy:

  1. Boot into Windows 7
  2. Access the MSCONFIG program by going to 'Start', 'Run', 'msconfig'
  3. Go to the 'Boot' tab and remove the Windows 8 boot option by highlighting it and clicking 'Delete'.
  4. Highlight your Windows 7 boot option and click 'Set As Default'
  5. Close out MSCONFIG but DO NOT RESTART.
  6. Access your Disk Manager snap-in by going to: Start Control Panel Administrative Tools Computer Management Double-click 'Disk Management' in the left pane
  7. Find the VFD you created for the Windows 8 installation
  8. Right-click on it
  10. Right-click on the now empty volume and select 'Shrink Volume' (This will merge it back to your Primary)
  11. Ensure your C: Drive is marked with "Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary Partition"
  12. Close the Module
  13. Reboot the System

If you DIDN'T install Windows 8 to a new partition and Dual-Boot your system, you will need to use the Backup Disks. Your Recovery partition (F2, Alt+R, etc, etc) may not be available if you've deleted it during the install so always have a backup or full disk IMG on hand to recover.

Original Answer

No, you can't simply uninstall this preview. Had you read the FAQs:

Can I uninstall Windows 8 Consumer Preview?

No. To go back to your previous version of Windows, you'll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC. (Unless you installed it to a separate partition, in that event READ ABOVE!!!)

"Is there a workaround?" you ask with a twinkle of hope in your voice. No, it appears there is not. If you have the recovery discs or an image of your system, you might be in luck. If you boot from Windows 7 you will notice that the windows 8 preview cannot be downgraded to Windows 7. (YES IT CAN) You would need to do a clean install.(NOT IN ALL INSTANCES) Maybe you search for a restore point, but you didn't make one..

"Oh but I hate it, I have a list of complaints, maybe I'm irrational as well. What can I do?" You can read about something before you do it next time I've already linked the FAQs, but:

Are there risks to installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview?

Yes. Windows 8 Consumer Preview is stable and has been thoroughly tested, but it’s not the finished product. Your PC could crash and you could lose important files. You should back up your data and you shouldn't test Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your primary home or business PC. You might also encounter problems like:

 - Software that doesn’t install or work correctly, including antivirus or 
   security programs.

 - Printers, video cards, or other hardware that doesn’t work.

 - Difficulty accessing corporate or home networks.

 - Files that might become corrupted.

You should carefully balance the risks and rewards of trying out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview before you install it.

You did backup your data, didn't you? You should always have your data backed up. Then this wouldn't be a problem. Maybe you could try backing up your data from the Windows 8 preview and doing a clean install? Ultimately, there is no way to rollback the windows 8 consumer preview without doing a complete restore from a system image or recovery partition/discs

Remember to read the documentation, back-up your data, understand the risks, create restore points, image your system and take every precautionary step you can before you install a new OS.

  • 4
    +1 for "Oh but I hate it, I have a list of complaints, maybe I'm irrational as well."
    – Shadok
    Mar 1, 2012 at 12:03
  • You would think, for a preview, that it would be downgradable.
    – cutrightjm
    Apr 20, 2012 at 2:19

If you install to a VHD, then getting rid of it is a simple matter of booting into Windows 7, deleting the VHD file, and deleting the Windows 8 entry using msconfig.exe.

I'm not trying to be snarky, I just want to put this here so that people who are still planning their installation can consider this option. So much pain can be avoided.


Yes, it can be done if you have the original "Windows.old" directory (created during the Windows 8 setup) in your drive and a boot-able DVD/USB device for Windows 8 installation. (Already tried with Windows 7, 99% should work with Windows 8 too.)

  • Boot from the DVD/USB device for the 'Windows 8 Consumer Preview' installation (change your BIOS settings if necessary) [[To make a boot-able USB, first format your USB, and then copy the whole content of 'WindowsESD' directory (you would get that inside C: drive after installing windows 8 Consumer Preview) to your USB. ]]

  • Let the setup load

  • Choose languages and click 'Next'

  • You would see a 'Repair your computer' button; click on that

  • Press SHIFT+F10. This will open an elevated command prompt

  • Type C:, then dir to make sure you are in the right disk. You should see Windows, Windows.old, Users, ProgramData... Otherwise, try D: or X:

  • Move your existing Windows 8 installation by running the following commands (ignore if you receive 'The system cannot find the file specified.' and go to the next):

    mkdir win8
    move "Windows"               "win8\Windows"
    move "Program Files"         "win8\Program Files"
    move "Program Files (x86)"   "win8\Program Files (x86)"
    move "Users"                 "win8\Users"
    attrib -h -s -r ProgramData
    move "ProgramData"           "win8\ProgramData"
    move "PerfLogs"              "win8\PerfLogs" 
  • Next, restore your previous Windows installation:

    move /y "c:\Windows.old\Windows" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\Program Files" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\Program Files (x86)" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\Users" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\ProgramData" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\PerfLogs" c:\
    move /y "c:\Windows.old\Documents and Settings" c:\ (*Run this command only if your previous Windows was XP)
  • Reboot your computer and eject the DVD / USB device

{{ N.B.: If you had installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview over WinXP SP3, you have to perform an extra step before rebooting while you are in Command Prompt console. Here it is:- First, find out your DVD/USB drive letter; lets suppose it's ( G:\ ). I also suppose, there is a directory named 'boot' (which contains 'bootsect' file) inside your DVD/USB drive. -Type 'G:' (or whatever your DVD/USB letter is) and hit enter -Type 'cd boot\' and hit enter; (you would get [G:\boot\ ] -Type 'bootsect /nt52 c:' and hit enter (for Windows 7, it is '/nt60 c:') You are done! }}

Let me know if you encounter any problems.

  • 1
    "Consm Prevw" This isn't Twitter. Mar 3, 2012 at 7:15
  • To move the ProgramData folder, I have to remove the hidden attribute with the command: Attrib -H ProgramData After moving, add the hidden attribute again. I had successfully "rolled back" from the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to Windows 7 this way – not sure what side effects can occur. During the Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation, part of my Windows 7 user documents such as Pictures and Favorites were migrated from Windows 7 to Windows 8. I had to manually copy them back to the Windows 7 user folder.
    – user121166
    Mar 3, 2012 at 11:47
  • if this procedure is possible and boots, then any linux live cd will also do. Please follow this post if anyone has done this thing successfully... Mar 3, 2012 at 12:56
  • @VineetMenon this was a failure on a test machine, for me. I'm not going to -1 yet because there haven't been reports of it failing for others. Mar 4, 2012 at 0:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.