Downgrade rights for Windows 7 Pro OEM desktop software

Windows 7 Pro OEM downgrade rights will be available through the sales life-cycle of Windows 7, which is up to 2 years after launch date of a new version. Microsoft will maintain this right, and the activation center will activate the downgrade, however Microsoft will not provide any OEM media or the means to obtain the media.

Announcement from Original Equipment Manufacturers about downgrade images

A recent announcement from OEMs state that they will not supply the XP Pro configuration as part of their configuration going forward. Customers must purchase a PC with Windows 7 Pro OEM, accept the Windows 7 Software Licensing Terms, and either perform the downgrade or authorize a third-party to install on their behalf. The customer will need to obtain genuine OEM Windows XP Pro media and a corresponding product key. The product key also must be OEM Windows XP Pro, however it can be taken off another computer that has been already activated. In this case during activation they will need to call activation support from Microsoft. Please see Microsoft Win 7 OEM downgrade instructional guide for complete customer information and process.

Re-imaging rights of OEM

“Additionally if the customer is licensed through Volume Licensing and has at least one Upgrade License for Windows XP Pro or higher, they may use the provided VL media and key from the VLSC portal to facilitate the downgrade rights for that system. This is part of the “Re-Imaging” rights for Volume License.”

Example:

If your customer purchases 5 PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed, however they are standardized throughout the organization on Windows XP. If the customer is unable to obtain an OEM XP Pro media disc, they may purchase 1 copy of Windows 7 Upgrade through their Volume Licensing Program and use the Windows XP media download and XP Pro Product MAK key on the VLSC for all 5 computers.

New Computer OEM

Customer wants

Needs to obtain

Or Purchase

Win 7 Pro

XP Pro OEM downgrade

XP Pro OEM media & OEM Product key

1 VL Win 7 Upgrade License, use XP media and VL Key

Win 7 Pro

Win 7 Enterprise

  

Software Assurance within 90 days for each desktop

Win 7 Pro

Reimage Win 7 for standardization

  

1 VL Win 7 Upgrade License

Win 7 Pro 32 bit

Win 7 Pro x64

  

Software Assurance within 90 days for each desktop

Downgrade rights for Windows 7 are an end-user right, documented in the Software License Terms that customers accept upon first running Windows software.

 

  • Note that Windows 7 end-user downgrade rights will be available through the sales life-cycle of Windows 7, which is up to two years after the launch date of a new version.

Customers must:

  • Purchase a PC pre-installed with Windows 7.
  • Accept the Windows 7 Software License Terms.
  • Perform the downgrade or authorize a third-party to install on their behalf.

The Downgrade Process

Follow these steps to downgrade to a previous version of Windows:

  • Obtain genuine Windows media and a corresponding product key for the eligible version of Windows for downgrade (see next section for eligible Windows versions).
  • The media should come from a prior legally licensed version from the OEM or Retail channels.
  • Additionally an end-user, who is licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) programs, may provide their VL media and key to their system builder to use to facilitate the downgrade on only their systems.
  • Insert eligible downgrade version of Windows media in the CD drive and follow the installation instructions.
  • Type the product key.
  • If the software was previously activated, you will not be able to activate it online. In this case, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed. Call the number and explain the circumstances. When it is determined that the end-user has an eligible Windows license, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code to activate the software. Please note that Microsoft does not provide a full product key in this scenario.
  • Activate the software.

 OEM Versions of Windows 7 Eligible for Downgrade

Only certain OEM versions of Windows 7 include downgrade rights

  • Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate include downgrade rights to Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate.
  • Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate include downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or Windows XP x64 Edition.
  • Other OEM Windows 7 versions (for instance, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium) do not include downgrade rights.

     

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

Q.
Who can install the downgrade software?

A. A system builder (when authorized by the end-user), or the end-user can install the software. Because downgrade rights are an end-user right granted in the product License Terms, the end-user must first be able to accept the terms associated with the software. So, the original software must be installed first, before the downgrade software is installed. The downgrade media can come from a prior legally licensed version from the OEM/system builder or Retail channels. Additionally an end-user, who is licensed separately, through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, may provide their Volume Licensing media and key to their System Builder to use to facilitate the downgrade on only their systems.

Q.
What about product activation? When a previously licensed version of Windows XP Professional is used for the downgrade, won’t activation fail on the new PC?

A. Once Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, or Windows XP Professional is installed, the PC will prompt for a Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, or Windows XP Professional product key in order to activate the software. The product key associated with the original Windows software should be used for activation. If the Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, or Windows XP Professional product key has been previously activated, which is likely if the media came from a prior legally licensed version that has been activated in the past, the software may be unable to activate over the Internet. When this happens, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed, and the person performing the downgrade will need to call the Activation Support Line and explain the circumstances to a customer service representative.

Once it is determined that the end-user has a valid Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Vista Business, or Windows Vista Ultimate license, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code that can be used to activate the software.

Q.
Can end users return to Windows 7 Pro or software after they downgrade?

    A. Yes. End users who downgrade may reinstall the original software when they are ready to migrate. For example, an end-user who downgrades to Windows XP Professional may later return to Windows 7 Professional provided the end-user deletes the Windows XP Professional software from the PC.

Q.
How do end users reinstall the original software after downgrading to a previous allowed downgrade version?

A. End users must use the original OEM system builder media that was included with the PC for reinstallation. The downgrade software must be deleted from the hard drive before the original software is reinstalled.

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