Hopefully this will be the last time I write about installing any OS. The only reason I do this one more time is that I find Win8 to be an abomination for us older folks who don’t like pretending our computers are just big cellphones. I downgraded from Win8 to Win7. I won’t offer much hand-holding, but here are some useful notes for those wishing to try it themselves.
I assume you have your own copy of Win7 for this. Installation isn’t that bad, but you’ll have to catch the BIOS at boot up (hit F2 as soon as you see the “Dell” logo on the screen) and turn off secure boot the enable legacy boot, which disables UEFI.
But before you start, you’ll probably want the entire set of Win7 drivers burned to a CD. Please note the following logical steps:
1. Go to Dell’s official support page for this model.
2. Do not let Dell install their support utilities. Ignore that offer because it’s badly botched up and will not solve your problems consistently.
Also, do not download Dell’s Touchpad driver. It’s very badly wrapped in rotten .NET code that seldom works properly after installation. The older driver from Synaptics itself is better because it uses a simple Win-GUI toolset. Besides, it actually offers more features. Update: Since I first wrote this, Dell has addressed this problem. I now recommend you use the touchpad driver provided for Win7. It’s about as good as it gets, which isn’t really saying much. (BTW, this ratty cheap touchpad works poorly on every OS except Win7; on Kubuntu it was totally unusable but it’s tolerable on Debian 8).
3. What you’ll see on the official drivers list is incomplete. (Update: It’s not so bad any more; Dell has stepped up to the plate and put more of the Win7 drivers on the support page. All you really need to hunt down is the driver for the Ricoh SD card reader. Feel free to peruse the alternate download page that follows…) Take what’s there, then go to this page. That Dell offers this sort of listing is one of the best kept secrets. You’ll need stuff like the USB host controller, the Intel Chipset driver, and the 1705 Bluetooth and Wifi driver, along with the Rapid Technology driver (SATA driver).
In general, you’ll want to install the base chipset driver first, then the graphics, followed by the SATA and USB, then everything else. Please note that the BIOS update cannot be installed from the CD. It must be copied to the hard drive first, then you can install it.
Mine runs pretty snappy with Win7. Good luck.