Windows 7 to Allow Vista and XP Downgrades, Sort Of
Article by George Norman
On 07 Apr 2009
It seems that Microsoft is really determined to get as many people as possible on board with the next iteration of the Windows-based OS, mainly Windows 7, and the best way to do this is to please the users. Not only will the Windows 7 operating system be properly good from a functionality point of view (take the Windows 7 RC enhancements for example), it will also respect the users’ choice to downgrade to a more familiar OS version – this means Windows Vista (which Texas banned ) and the now outdated (but very popular) Windows XP.

This is not just a wild rumor spreading around the internet, like the report that Google is negotiating the purchase of Twitter ( details here ) or the report that the iPhone OS 3.0 will feature video editing tools ( details here ). The information is genuine and has been confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson and by HP (company that is heavily promoted in Microsoft’s latest Laptop Hunter ads ).


“This is not the first time that Microsoft has offered downgrade rights to a version other than its immediate predecessor and our volume-license customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows,” said a Microsoft spokesperson contacted by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.

If you were thinking this was too good to be true, you were right. As you can see, there is a catch (there always is) – only volume-license customers can downgrade to another Windows version. If you are not familiar with volume licensing, here is how Microsoft describes it:

“Simply stated, volume licensing of software makes it easier and more affordable to run software on multiple computers within a single purchasing organization. By acquiring software licenses through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, you only pay for the software license. Boxed software, on the other hand, includes media (the CD-ROM or DVD), a user's guide and other packaging items. Eliminating these physical costs and purchasing in volume often reduces cost and provides more customized purchasing options and improved software management. In the case of some Volume Licensing programs, you may also purchase Software Assurance. This comprehensive maintenance offering can help you get the most out of your software investment.”

There is one other catch: Microsoft currently offers downgrade options to Vista Business and Vista Ultimate, and these OSs can only downgrade to Windows XP Professional. Similar limitations are expected to be implemented with the Windows 7 downgrade functionality as well.

If you would like to upgrade to Windows 7, not downgrade, details about the transition are presented here.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 7, Vista, XP, Downgrade
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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