Q: I recently bought a Windows 8 laptop, and the only thing I don't like about the PC is Windows 8. I want to replace Windows 8 with the more familiar Windows 7. How can I do this?

A: To put it mildly, Windows 8 isn't very popular. While it makes sense for touch-sensitive tablets, it makes little sense on a PC because it forces people to use the computer in an entirely different way for little apparent benefit.

Not surprisingly, consumers haven't flocked to Windows 8. Microsoft hasn't talked about Windows 8 sales in two consecutive quarterly earnings reports. And third-party market research firm Net Applications says fewer people have bought Windows 8 than bought the much-maligned Windows Vista in the first five months after the respective operating systems were introduced.

If you don't like Windows 8, there are three things you can do:

1. There are several programs that will alter the Windows 8 Start Screen to look and behave more like the Windows 7 Start Menu. This is by far the easiest solution. Infoworld.com has more information at tinyurl.com/boj8ecr

2. Pay a computer repair shop to install Windows 7 for you.

3. You can replace Windows 8 with Windows 7, but it's not easy.

First, back up your PC's data (which will be wiped out by switching to Windows 7), then download and back up the Windows 7 software drivers for external PC devices such as printers (you can find the drivers on the website of the manufacturer).

If you have Windows 8 Pro, you can switch to Windows 7 Pro in a way that will let you go back to Windows 8 later if you change your mind. You'll have to buy a copy of Windows 7 Pro. Then follow the directions in the article "How to 'downgrade' to Windows 7" on Infoworld.com, at tinyurl.com/dyqfs2q

If you have any other version of Windows 8, you'll have to do a "clean install" using any version of Windows 7. Save your data and software drivers as I mentioned above. Before you start, read section three of the "How to downgrade" article, which explains how to turn off a Windows 8 feature called "secure boot" that would otherwise prevent you from installing Windows 7.

Steve Alexander covers technology. Email your questions to: steve.j.alexander@gmail.com Please include a full name, city and phone number.