HP Support: Downgrading Your New Computer To Windows 7 Voids The Warranty (Update: No, Not Really)

Nick needed a PC for a new employee, and went to Fry’s and bought it retail. Here’s the problem: the computer came with Windows 8, but the department where he works still only supports Windows 7. It was only after he downgraded that someone on HP’s support staff told him that going back to an older operating system voids the new computer’s warranty. Update: This is not actually the case.

Yes, Nick understands why. Even we do. New PCs and their hardware drivers are designed around Windows 8: the company can’t guarantee that everything will work after a downgrade. At the same time, is it reasonable to expect that less than six months after its release, every home and office user is using networks and software compatible with Windows 8?

He writes:

I work in IT for a university in [redacted]. I had to buy a new desktop for a new staff member and decided to go with a new HP from Fry’s since it was excellent quality for the money. Unfortunately it came with Windows 8, which my department doesn’t support, so I needed to downgrade to Windows 7.

HP details the steps to downgrade, using the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) license, on their website – Microsoft does too. But since my university ave institutional licensing to all Microsoft products, I just installed our DVD/license to make things quick and easy. Got it working just fine, but I had a bunch of hardware not operating (like the network, USB, etc.) because there were missing drivers.

Unfortunately, HP only listed Windows 8 drivers for my product on their website.

I called the HP Enterprise Tech Support – a nifty feature we get at the university – and had quite a shock: apparently downgrading to Windows 7 makes my warranty “null and void” according to the HP Tech Support representative. Yup, that’s right, install any operating system other than Windows 8 on a new HP and you can kiss your warranty, and all support features from HP, good-bye!

Sure, the HP rep sent me to the page detailing how I could downgrade to Windows 7 with their OEM license on their website (not understanding that I already had Windows 7 installed), and the additional pages on the Microsoft website. But once I got transferred to a new representative to hopefully find my drivers, I was told my choice to downgrade was also a decision to void my warranty.

This same rep ask me “Why did you think you have the right to downgrade to Windows 8?” Excuse me, but the right!? I bought the hardware! I have the right to install whatever I want on it! HP sells hardware, not software. Why should HP care if I install Windows 7, or Microsoft Office, or Firefox on my computer?

He also asked me “Why didn’t you just buy a computer with Windows 7?” It doesn’t take a genius to know that no new PCs are being manufactured without some version of Windows 8. All the hardware vendors are hoping Windows 8 will propel PC sales into the black.

I think all consumers should know before they buy an HP computer, that if they don’t like Windows 8 installed on it, they should know whatever warranty they have/buy will be completely void once they downgrade – or God forbid – install Ubuntu on it.

Yes, God forbid anyone would do that. There’s a difference between having HP’s support not help you out with your problems getting specific pieces of hardware to work after you’ve installed Ubuntu or some other distribution of Linux, and saying that the warranty is void. If Nick turned around and put Windows 8 back on the computer, those drivers would work just fine.

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