Windows 8.1 is the first real update to Microsoft’s latest operating system. Most experts and users agree that Windows 8.1 has lots of improvements, including interface improvements, restored Start button (not the one that other Windows versions used to have, though), and improved security. However, for some users Windows 8.1 proved to be a nightmare – it broke some program installations, it wasn’t as comfortable to use as the original one, and it even made some people seriously consider switching to Linux (read the forums and you’ll see that I’m not lying). But a better solution is to simply roll back to the original Windows 8.
The main problem is that unlike the Windows updates we got used to over the years, Windows 8.1 can’t be removed in an easy way. There is no restore point, no visible uninstall option – nothing! And Microsoft isn’t very helpful either. Here’s what they say:
If you have upgraded from Windows 8 Pro with Media Center to Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center, you might be able to restore it back to Windows 8 by refreshing your PC.
Well, even though they only say “you might be able to”, you should actually try doing a refresh and restore your system from a recovery partition. Here is how you can use the new Windows 8 refresh and reset features to get rid of Windows 8.1. Keep in mind that you will most likely need a physical Windows 8 installation media (a disc or a thumb drive) that you either had or made before your PC updated to Windows 8.1.
Here is how you can use the Refresh feature, the option that reinstalls Windows but keeps all your files, programs and settings in place:
Go to the Charms bar > Settings > Change PC settings > General, and scroll down to the Refresh section. Then click on the Get Started button under Refresh. You will see the Refresh your PC screen. From now on all you need is to follow the prompts to get to the Refresh button and then start the process. Your PC will be refreshed and it will load back to the Start screen.
And here is how you can use the Reset feature, the option that will reinstall Windows and completely wipe out all data you have:
Go to the Charms bar > Settings > Change PC settings > General, and scroll down to the Reset section. Now click on Get Started button under Reset. You will see the Reset your PC screen where you’ll need to follow the prompts. At one point you will be offered two choices – to keep your files or to completely wipe your drive. Select the option that suits you best. When you reach the final prompt screen, click on Reset and wait for Windows to do the rest.
If you want to find out more about Windows 8’s Refresh and Reset features, read this how-to article from CNet.