According to the FAQ, the company fully supports downgrades for commercial-based machines. Many businesses purchasing a new laptop or desktop with Windows 8 may not have the resources to upgrade other machines on the network. There also many not be enough time and money to re-train employees on how to use the new Modern UI interface.
But on the consumer front, HP is suggesting that customers refrain from downgrading Windows 8 to an older OS. Even more, the company said that after October 26, 2012, HP consumer desktop and notebook products will ship only with Windows 8 – getting a new Windows 7 machine is no longer an option.
"Windows 7 will not be supported on these new platforms, and no drivers, apps, or Windows 7 content will be available through HP," the company states. "If users choose to downgrade their HP consumer desktop or notebook system, HP will continue to support the hardware but if there is an issue where HP diagnostics are required OR it is determined that the loaded software or upgrade operating system is causing the issue, HP may suggest returning the system to the original Windows 8 OS that shipped with the computer."
For HP customers, that means they're on their own if they run into trouble using Windows 7 on a system built and fine-tuned for Windows 8. However downgrading to the older platform may ultimately not be an issue, as consumers may find that the new OS isn't quite as overhauled and overwhelming as many critics have led them to believe.
For those who haven't upgraded to Windows 8, just imagine a slightly redesigned Windows 7 (SE) with an overlay – or as it's called in the Android realm, a launcher. Microsoft and its hardware partners have mainly pushed this new Modern UI overlay when promoting Windows 8, as it takes precedence on mobile products and the Xbox consoles. But for desktops users, it's seemingly business as usual once they've clicked the Desktop tile and entered into familiar territory.
The big difference over Windows 7 is that the Start button is gone. That makes it somewhat difficult to locate desktop-based software without having to use the Search function on the Charms bar tucked away to the right. If anything, the multi-screen extended desktop experience has been improved, and users can still create shortcuts on the desktop to important Windows features like My Computer, the Control Panel and more.
Still, there may be many consumers too stressed over having to re-learn Windows, wanting to return to the good ole' days of Windows 7. But as HP states in its FAQ, there may be serious consequences if their Windows 8-based HP machine moves down the OS ladder. Customers will just have to set their fears aside and get to know a really great new OS.
UPDATE: HP emailed and explained that it has updated the FAQ with the following information:
Can I downgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7?
Yes, customers can downgrade to Windows 7 and you will remain protected by HP product warranties. However, HP has not tested all Windows 8 platforms for Windows 7 and we may not have your particular drivers available. If you choose to install a different operating system (OS) and have a problem that requires HP support, you may need to restore the original OS to fully diagnose your problem. Please check with HP Customer Care for questions related to your specific product.