Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

After trying Windows 7 you might find that it's not your cup of tea. What then? Well, it's not really an "uninstall", it's more of a replacement.

I use XP Pro and I installed the free Windows 7 on a separate partition. After a couple of days use, I didn't like Win 7 and wanted to get rid of it but there is no uninstall program. How does one gt rid of this program?

Well, that was fast.

Windows 7 has been out less than a few days, and we already have people who don't like it. Not surprising, actually, since this is clearly a matter of taste and personal preference, particularly for those who are coming from Windows XP.

I'm a little concerned about this "free" version you mention, since there really isn't one. I'll assume you're talking about the release candidate, a test version that will expire next year sometime.

But you're quite correct: there is no uninstall. Instead, you'll need to replace.

When you install an operating system you're effectively overwriting what was there before.

In the case of a "clean" install, you're erasing everything on the target partition, and then copying in the new operating system. In case case of an "upgrade" install, you're preserving your applications, data and settings, but the operating system itself is completely overwritten and replaced.

"When you install an operating system you're effecting overwriting what was there before."

The bottom line is that there's nothing to uninstall to. An "uninstall", if even available, would leave you with a machine with no operating system; a machine that would not boot.

Now you've indicated that you installed to a separate partition. You likely have a choice at boot time which partition to boot into, so simply boot into the XP partition, remove the Windows 7 boot option, and start using that partition you had used for Windows 7 however you see fit.

If you're not given a boot choice, but you're certain that you installed on a separate partition, you may need to use a partition or boot management tool to change the partition that your machine boots from. I just use the partition manager in an Ubuntu Live CD, but you may also be able to mark the old Windows XP partition as active using the Windows 7 disk management tool.

If you installed on top of your Windows XP installation, then there's no recourse, and as I said, nothing to uninstall to. Your only real option is to reinstall Windows XP from it's original media.

And for the record, while I've used Windows XP and Windows 7 throughout this discussion, it applies to any combination of operating system. Regardless of which you use, there's really no such thing as an uninstall. Because an operating system is so fundamental to operating a computer, most simply do not retain the information required to support a subsequent uninstall and reversion to whatever had been there before.

By far your best approach, always, is to perform a full system backup - an image backup of some sort - prior to installing a new operating system. That way, regardless of what happens you'll have everything you need to restore the system to its state at the time of that backup should you decide you don't like the new operating system.

Article C3904 - October 24, 2009 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

October 27, 2009 8:29 AM

One other option might be, if XP is in the original boot partition, he/she may be able to to go into Disk Management and format the partition that W7 is installed into. also there might also be the option of using an old DOS program like fdisk to assign a new active partition and delete the W7 one.

October 27, 2009 9:02 AM

Linux roxx!
I feel going back to WinXP from Win7 would suit only those with older configuration.
However 1GB RAM Laptops work just fine with Win7!
Are there other sureshot ways to use XP on new machines than using virtual machines?


October 27, 2009 10:17 AM

Then I would hope someone backed up the XP registry 'cause I'm pretty sure that's been changed and could trigger a lot of black and blue screens of death. But then again, I've never upgraded an OS (beside SPs), so I could be wrong.

October 27, 2009 11:00 AM

I wonder what Leo thinks of Windows 7. I've read one article so far that gives reasons to switch from XP to Windows 7, and I am not convinced. There are not enough advantages for me, as I mainly use my putr for email, surfing the web, and the odd printout of pix, greeting cards and persal correspondence. Windows 7's claim to fame seems to be in the media department, which really does not affect me. I don't HAVE to switch, do I? will XP become obsolete anytime soon?

You don't have to switch, and there is no urgency. I'll say more about Windows 7 myself after I've had more time with it.

Name: (Required)
October 27, 2009 11:17 AM

Auntie D: No, XP won't be obsolete soon. It will have mainstream support until 2014. I myself was never an early adopter of new Oses. In fact, I didn't switch over to XP from 98 until 2004! I'm going to hang on to XP as long as my hardware is still working or until 7 SP2 comes out, whichever is first. Maybe I'll even wait until Windows 8 comes out in '12.

Carl R. Goodwin
October 27, 2009 5:09 PM

It amazes me that people are STILL using XP! People-get over it!!! The time to move on is NOW.

October 27, 2009 6:26 PM

I've been a Windows user since v3.0. But now I am strongly considering moving to Linux Ubuntu Desktop. BIG STEP AND LEARNING CURVE !!! I just can't afford paying for every new OS (Windows) that shows up; especially because of the exsorbetant(sp) prices! Can't be free I guess.

October 27, 2009 9:02 PM

AuntieD, the anonymous writer is WRONG. It will NOT have mainstream support until 2014. Mainstream Support runs out June 30 2010. From there Microsoft will continue to Provide ONLY CRITICAL updates, and the defenition of critical becomes more restricted (i.e. something that was critical may be reclassed as simply important) until June 30 2014. Basically, you have around 12 Months before Windows XP begins to become obsolete.

October 28, 2009 12:46 AM

AuntieD...whatever uses you put your machine to could very well be catered to by Linux! Why did you ever start using windows? You'd always receive free OSes and updates till eternity! So, don't worry about discontinuation of XP mainstream support! Just switch over to Linux!

October 28, 2009 12:48 AM

And I would recommend ubuntu if you indeed decide to switch over to linux!


November 2, 2009 12:38 AM

Microsoft makes money by using us as guinea pigs, and we pay for the privilege of this often torturous experiment?
It is absolutely mind boggling how tolerant we have become.

I think the most rational standard is what works well, and does the least damage, not what the latest software swill the Microsoft is shilling.
At the very least, by accepting mediocre crap, we are validating and supporting it.
We deserve better, and we are far from getting it, any time soon, from the 800 pound gorilla in Redmond.

November 2, 2009 4:19 PM

Im using vista then i installed windows 7 & now i cant restore my laptop back to factory setting im back with vista but still cant restore to factory setting is there any way i can because i got loads of problems with my laptop & its doin my head in now.


James craig
November 28, 2009 3:33 PM

I installed Windows 7 as a "clean install" but unfortunately, obviously my mistake I installed into my "E" drive and this is in actually my "Recovery" drive. I have copied this "drive" and saved the data - if I format the drive what do I not copy back. Currently I have a "dual boot" system with the PC booting into either Win 7 or Vista. Will formatting remove the Win 7 option?

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May 26, 2010 12:20 AM

ou are my saviour! I have been pulling my hair out trying to fix a Smart Card problem on a 2nd hand kiosk. I new the Smart Card resource manager was broken but had no idea how to fix it. You readme and batch file did the trick. Thank You!!!

Miss. Andrea Borman.
February 2, 2011 5:32 AM

No,you can NOT uninstall Windows,the only thing you can do is restore your computer to factory settings. This will put your computer back to the way it was before you bought it. I had to do this with my computer because I had problems and system restore no longer worked. So I had to restore to factory setting. The factory restore setting is an recovery image that the makers of your computer put on there in the facory,that will put the computer back to the way it was when you bought it. So original programs and settings will be restored and if you have upgraded you copy of Windows,example from XP to windows 7. This too will be removed and replaced with the original copy of Windows it had before you bought your computer. Windows Xp.Andrea Borman.

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