Tech Q&A: Downgrade after installing Windows 10 can be hazardous

October 26, 2015 

Q: I installed the Windows 10 upgrade on my laptop. But I didnít like Windows 10, so two weeks later I reversed the upgrade and went back to Windows 7. Then I started receiving messages from Microsoft that my copy of Windows 7 was counterfeit. I tried to reload Windows 10, but my Windows 7 "product key" was rejected and I couldnít perform the upgrade.

Is there a fix?

ó Harold Kortright, Winter Haven, Fla.

A: Your brief upgrade to Windows 10 has created some electronic confusion that makes Windows 7 appear counterfeit. Thatís why youíre getting warnings from Microsoft.

Whatís the upgrade got to do with it? Normally, you have 30 days to switch from Windows 10 back to Windows 7. After 30 days, the Windows 7 product key (a kind of password that verifies you have a legal copy of Windows) stops working and your old Windows 7 files are deleted.

But you used Windows 10 for only two weeks, so if your Windows 7 product key has quit working, then somethingís wrong. Here are some potential solutions you can try.

ó Complain to a Microsoft representative. You can do that by setting up a free account with the Microsoft Answer Desk (see After signing up, you can request to talk to a Microsoft worker via online chat or telephone. The representative will tell you whether your problem can be fixed for free or if youíll have to pay $99 an hour for help.

ó Try reactivating Windows 7. Go to Start, right click on "computer" and select properties. On the resulting menu, click "Activate Windows now." On the list, first try "Retype your product key." (To find the key, see If that doesnít work, click "Use the automated phone system to activate." (Choose the nearest location and youíll be given a phone number.) As a third choice, click "Buy a new product key online."

ó Download a new free copy of Windows 7 to a DVD disk or a flash drive (see Then, after backing up all your PCís data to an external disk drive or flash drive, install the new copy of Windows 7. Doing so will wipe out everything on your hard drive. (This is the option offered to those who waited more than 30 days to reverse the upgrade.)

Q: My Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 laptop wonít stay in energy-conserving sleep or hibernation modes. It wakes up at random times, even if the lid is closed. I disconnected the PC from the Internet, but that didnít make any difference. Is there a solution?

ó Jim Krueger, Bloomington, Minn.

A: Among the possible causes of a PC waking up prematurely are a wireless mouse with old software drivers (to download new drivers, see and incorrectly configured PC power settings (the hard drive and the display screen should be set to go to sleep at least a minute before the PC does.) For details on these fixes, see



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