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Windows 7 Downgrade Rights

Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate products will now include End User downgrade rights to :

  • the corresponding versions of Windows Vista (Business or Ultimate), or
  • Window XP Professional, or
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or
  • Windows XP Professional x64.

When OEMs begin manufacturing and distributing OEM Activation (OA)-enabled Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate products, an OEM may choose to install OA-enabled Windows XP Professional (or Windows XP Professional Tablet PC or Windows XP Professional x64 Editions) product instead of OA-enabled Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, provided they meet the following additional requirements:

  • Each system must be distributed with an OA-enabled Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and must have the appropriate activation markers for both OA 2.X and OA 1.0.

  • OEMs are required to distribute physical recovery media, in the system packaging, for the Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate version that corresponds to the COA.

  • If the system does not include an optical drive, the OEM is required to provide either a hard drive-based recovery solution or physical recovery media for that version of Windows 7 software.
    Note: This represents a change from the current requirements for Windows Vista Professional or Windows Vista Ultimate systems with Windows XP Professional installed. A waiver to the Fast Track Amendment will be provided allowing physical recovery media as an alternative to hard drive-based recovery requirement for systems that do not include an optical drive.

  • In addition to the required Windows 7 recovery media, OEMs may also choose to provide a recovery solution for the preinstalled version of Windows XP. This may be hard drive-based or on physical recovery media provided in the system packaging or to an End User of such systems upon request.

  • Each system must meet the Windows 7 Logo criteria requirements outlined on the Windows Quality Online Services web site and pass all tests for PCs posted at However, the system must not be distributed with a Windows 7 logo. For clarification, the system may be distributed with the "Designed for Windows XP" logo.

  • OEMs may advertise this option, however advertising must:

    • Primarily and more prominently feature the Windows operating system version that is preinstalled on the system. For example, "Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (available through downgrade rights from Windows® 7 Professional)" would meet this requirement; and

    • Clearly indicate that the End User may only use one version at a time and that switching between versions requires uninstalling the other version.

  • OEMs must provide the following End User notice in a clear and conspicuous manner to the End User at the time of purchase as well as on the product packaging of downgraded systems:

  • "Windows® XP Professional is preinstalled on this system and includes End User rights and media for Windows® 7 (Version).  You may only use one version at a time.  Switching between versions will require uninstalling the version on this system."

  • All system drivers, for both the Windows 7 and Windows XP products, must be made available to End Users on the OEM"s support web page(s)


Availability Of Windows 7 Downgrade Options

These End User rights will only be available for a limited time period. Microsoft will offer such downgrade rights at Windows 7 GA, but intends to change these rights at a later date after GA to only allow downgrade rights to the like version of Windows Vista software. In other words, after this limited period, Microsoft will only allow Windows 7-to-Windows Vista downgrades, but not Windows 7-to-Windows XP downgrades.

Microsoft has not yet determined the end date, but confirms these rights will remain at least until six months after Windows 7 GA. This timeframe provides small and medium businesses with additional time to transition to Windows 7.

After this date, OEMs may only facilitate a downgrade as part of a Custom Image to a qualified End User. End Users interested in further downgrade to Windows XP Professional after this limited period will be able to do so through Microsoft Volume Licensing, based on a qualifying product version of Windows 7.


Support For Windows XP

Microsoft mainstream support for Windows XP products is scheduled to end on April 14, 2009. Microsoft is currently evaluating feedback from OEMs and end users and will provide a follow-up communication regarding this evaluation by the first week of April.


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Windows Vista Downgrade Rights


Windows 7 Downgrade Rights
Availability Of Downgrade Rights
Support For Windows XP


Summary Of Downgrade Options

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