Installing programs: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about installing programs. For more information, see Install a program, Uninstall or change a program, and Uninstalling programs: frequently asked questions.

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How do I activate Windows?

For information about activation and product keys, see Activating Windows 7: frequently asked questions.

Can I uninstall Windows 7?

No, but you can reinstall your previous operating system, which then replaces Windows 7. To reinstall your old operating system, you must have the original installation disc. Back up your programs and files, insert the installation disc into your computer, and then reinstall the old operating system. To regain the hard disk space used by Windows 7, reformat the disk during the reinstallation process. After reinstalling your previous operating system, reinstall your programs and files.


  • If you reinstall your old operating system, your files and program settings won't be preserved. Be sure to back up your programs and files first.

How do I install updates to Windows?

Use automatic updating to ensure that Windows stays up-to-date with the latest information from Microsoft, including driver updates. For more information, see Install Windows updates in Windows 7.

Can I install a program made for an earlier version of Windows?

Yes. Most programs written for earlier versions of Windows also work in this version of Windows, but some older programs might run poorly or not run at all.

If an older program doesn't run correctly or doesn't install, start the Program Compatibility troubleshooter, which simulates an earlier version of Windows. You can run the wizard on the setup program itself if the program doesn't install, or you can run the wizard on the program if it installs but doesn't run correctly. For more information, see Make older programs run in this version of Windows

Why do I have to be an administrator to install a program?

Only administrators can make changes that will affect everyone who uses the computer, such as installing software and hardware and changing security settings.

If the program you are trying to install or run says you must have administrator rights, but you are already an administrator on the computer, right-click the installation icon for the program, and then click Run as administrator. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

If the program installs but does not run, right-click the program icon, click Properties, click the Compatibility tab, select the Run this program as an administrator check box, and then try to run the program.

How do I change the folder where a program installs?

You can usually choose the location of the folder during the setup process. You might decide to change the default location if you have created multiple partitions on your hard disk and want to store programs on a specific partition. It's not a good idea to move program files after they've been installed; if you've moved program files, you might need to reinstall the program to make it work correctly.