Q: How do I uninstall Windows 8.1 in my notebook?

Regrettably, Win 8.1 is also much harder to undo than other operating-system updates. Contrary to what its “point release” number might indicate, 8.1 is not some minor upgrade you can roll back via the Windows Update control panel. And it’s more difficult to roll back through the other standard mechanism in Windows, a system-recovery process.

A Microsoft frequently-asked-questions page about Win 8.1 clarifies this in dictionary which should give a reader pause: “If your PC came with Windows 8 you might be able to restore it back to Windows 8 by refreshing your PC.”

To use this option, click or tap the bottom-right corner of your background (or swipe in from the right edge of the Start screen), pick the gear-shaped Preferences icon, and then select “Change PC settings”

In that screen, tap or click “Update and retrieval,” choose the Recovery option and move with a refresh from that point. The computer will use the system-recovery partition of the drive to put things back as they were when you took the computer and your data.

If, nevertheless, you upgraded from Windows 7 or a older version to Windows 8 and then added 8.1 using Microsoft’s free Windows Store download, then the above procedure is out of the question.

Since Microsoft’s FAQ charms outside, post-8.1 “you will not be able to use the recovery partition on your PC to return to your previous version of Windows.” If you hadn’t previously thought to make a restoration flash drive from that partition, then you’re most likely stuck doing a fresh install of Windows. Because computers do not ship with a system DVD and that in turn requires paying for or beseeching the seller of your PC to get a Windows disc.

ZDNet writer Ed Bott, an author of multiple Windows novels, noted that Windows 7 has got the option to produce a full “disc image” backup of the entire system. “In case your reader had the option to create one of these picture backups before performing the upgrade, they can be back exactly where they left off (minus any files that were changed between now and when the image was snapped).”

I can affirm that disk-image copies operate, and that too many users don’t believe to make one until approximately one hour late.

As for what might make a Win 8.1 upgrade go bad, complaints I’ve gotten from readers normally concentrate on motorists — the desktop bits of software that let the system speak to elements including video cards — and other programs that have not been updated to work properly in Win 8.1.

That’s an old problem, and that’s your most likely alternative — awaiting the software in question to be upgraded for 8.1. Wrote Bott: “I’d attempt to solve the driver problem if I could. That’s likely to lead to the best outcome and the least amount of heartache.”

Going back stays an option in Windows. The button stays intact, even if it’s more difficult to access. (OS X Mavericks additionally enables you to revert to an old variant via the Time Machine backup app.) The iOS 7 of Applecan’t be uninstalled at all.

Tip: Create a Windows 8 recovery drive

Unlike earlier versions of Windows, 8 and 8.1 comprise easy, fast tools to create USB system-recovery drives. You can then use you to fix your system or restore it to factory condition, even when Windows itself is becoming unbootable.

To do this, plug into a reasonably big and vacant USB drive — Microsoft says you’ll need from 3 to 6 gigabytes — switch to Win 8’s Apps perspective, and type “create.” The first result should be “Produce a recovery drive.”

Follow the prompts there; should you opt for the option to replicate the recovery partition of your computer, you will also have the ability to restore the machine to mill shape.