Update: Microsoft giveth, and Microsoft taketh away. As Ed shows, you can extend your Win11 evaluation time, but only if you do so before the first 10 days are up. Find out about this on Day 15, and you’re still out of luck.
Microsoft is back to its “how can we make things as hard as possible” tricks with this one. I once described Microsoft as appearing to have an unwritten mission statement: “Microsoft builds incredibly deep, powerful, and flexible software products that — before they see the light of day — must be infused with a level of unnecessary inconvenience, incomprehensible restrictions, and regressive policies such that all possible joy has been removed prior to customer contact.”
So, yes, Microsoft has done it again.
Let’s say you’ve decided to go ahead and upgrade your trusty Windows 10 machine to Windows 11. Perhaps you followed the steps in my easy-to-follow guide, and your upgrade went as smoothly for you as mine did for me.
But then you use Windows 11 for a while. Perhaps your machine seems slower. Perhaps it’s a little less reliable on Windows 11. Perhaps some of your peripherals aren’t taking to Windows 11 all that well. Perhaps the new UI tweaks annoy you. Or perhaps you just don’t want to give Satya the satisfaction of showing Windows 11 upgrade stats with one more convert.
See also: Microsoft is embarrassing itself and customers can see it.
Whatever your reason, you just want to go back to good ol’ Windows 10. As it turns out, that’s quite doable. Microsoft makes it surprisingly easy. But in Microsoft’s typically twisted mindset where they make something incredibly easy and then make it incredibly difficult to access that ease, they’ve thrown a wrench in the works.
First, we’ll look at the easy. Then we’ll look at the bonkers, arbitrary limit Microsoft saddles their users with because… honestly, I’ve never quite figured out what warped sense of committee-driven product management leads Microsoft to some of their less-than-helpful policies.
The procedure is simplicity in itself. From the Start menu, choose System, then Recovery, then Go Back. Answer a simple question about why you’re reverting your Windows installation, and wait. Shortly later, your machine will restart. When it does, it will once again be running Windows 10.
But, as Adam Savage says, “Failure is always an option.” As the screenshot below shows, the Go Back option may no longer be available on your PC. Why? As it turns out, Microsoft turns that feature off after 10 days.
Yeah, that’s right. For no reason other than that it can, Microsoft will allow you to revert to Windows 10 within 10 days of updating to Windows 11. Should you decide on Day 11 or Day 15 that you’d like that old comfortable OS back, you’re out of luck.
A similar limitation existed upgrading to Windows 10. If you upgraded to Windows 10 and then wanted to roll back to Windows 7 or Windows 8, you could. But back then, the window for reverting Windows was 30 days, not ten.
To be fair, there may be reasons why a rollback from a major Windows upgrade might not be possible. The newer OS may have had too many upgrades or patches. The older OS might have had too many patches or fixes in the intervening time. That makes total sense.
Sure, you can still revert back to Windows 10 by going back to bare metal and rebuilding your Windows 10 installation from the ground up. We’ve accepted that reality for years. But when there’s a much easier solution available and no technical reason to block it, for an OS vendor to pick 10 days arbitrarily, that’s just plain mean spirited.
This has been a slightly snarky look at just one small “feature” of Windows 11. If you want a much more comprehensive guide to Windows 11 from the maestro himself, check out Ed Bott’s deep dive, Windows 11 hands-on: Microsoft’s biggest minor upgrade ever is all about new hardware.
What OS are you running? Have you tried Windows 11? How easy was the upgrade? Will you stick with Windows 11, or will you go back to Windows 10 (either the easy way or the hard way)? Let us know in the comments below.
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