back to article Microsoft to offer Windows 7 downgrade to XP

Microsoft has agreed to allow Windows 7 customers to downgrade not just to Vista but also to XP. The software firm confirmed it had planned downgrade rights for XP when Windows 7 shipped, which is expected later this year. "Microsoft will be offering an n-2 downgrade option with Windows 7 to help customers plan their …


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  1. Gabriel Vistica


    "Our volume-license customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows"

    Does that mean that if I buy enough licenses, I can downgrade all the way Windows 3.1?

  2. Rick Giles

    The instructions said...

    "Install Windows 98 or better..." I installed GNU/Linux

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Straight talking

    Unless I'm wrong then what they're saying is this "We know it's shit and we don't care. We're going to release it anyway and when you find out that it's shit you'll also find that you've just shelled out for a duplicate XP license".

    Then when they get the bugs removed (ha ha ha like that's ever happened with MS software) they'll revoke the XP and Vista downgrade licenses and say "Now you have to use Win7 with SP1".

    Fuck it. I'm never going back to Winblows. It sucked when I first used it. It sucked through the entire time I had it at home and it sucks when I use it at work. This admission from Redmond that they know their software is no up to the minimum release standards that other companise set themselves is rather telling.

    ...and if I really feel the need to run any dodgy malware then I'll install Wine.

  4. mittfh

    Ho hum...

    Perhaps the public perception of the OS following screenshots showing a very similar UI to Vista and media reports of increased DRM plus a dodgy attempt to fix UAC (i.e. internally looking suspiciously like Win 6.1 dressed up as a major release) has finally reached the perception of Microsoft's marketing department...

    Although it wouldn't surprise me if once Win 7 is released, most new and upgraded releases of software from MS will state they're only suitable for Vista and higher...

  5. Defiant

    Windows 2000 still rocks

    Hey don't knock Windows 2000

  6. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    I think everyone agrees that MS is "being economical with the truth" when it describes the move from Vista to XP as a "downgrade" (you get a better system, therefore it's an upgrade)

    But what is the move from 7 to XP? Up or Down?

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Or put another way ...

    Microsoft has said: "We do not give a damn what people want. They will have to pay for Windows 7, even if they have no intention of ever using it, and would prefer something cheaper instead. In fact, if they want any Microsoft operating system except Windows 7, they have to pay for the most expensive version of Windows 7 we license. This is because older Microsoft operating systems are far more valuable to customers than the new ones and we need some excuse to say people want Windows 7."

    If people swallow this, "Windows 8" require twice as much hardware to run half the speed of W7, but the $1000 version will let you upgrade to XP.

  8. Lewis Mettler

    prefer to upgrade to Linux myself

    Boy, you do know you are selling some bad stuff if you advertise the ability to take older products instead. Anything to get your money. And, no doubt, all these downgrades count as Windows 7 sales.

    Of course you can do the same with Linux. You just do not have to pay a bunch of money.

  9. Thomas Burnham
    Paris Hilton

    Windows 1995?

    You can tell when someone is new to the technology field by how they refer to legacy software.

    Paris cause Windows 1995 and Windows 1998 Was Hot.

    Side thought: Be safer to poke more fun at ME then 95

  10. Anonymous Coward


    "Which suggests that OEMs could roll back the OS clock further to Windows 2000 or even Windows 1995"

    1: It was called "Windows 95", not "Windows 1995"

    2: 95 was not the earliest version of windows. If a volume licensee wanted, they could upgrade to windows 3.0, windows 2, etc, etc.

  11. Steve Foster


    Oh, yes.

    Of course, you'll have to find suitable media...

  12. David Austin


    Based on the usability and stability of the beta, unless Microsoft find a way to epic fail between now and launch-day, I'm looking forward to letting customers loose on it, after the traditional launch + six months for any major show-stoppers to be found.

    Sounds a good way of keeping reasonable people happy - Give them a choice of XP, Vista or 7, and let them upgrade at their own pace. And as a bonus, any who pick vista can be added to the watch list, as clearly they're some issues there...

    *Wonders if he can go through to Windows 7 stable launch with only the 3 vista PC's he's shipped in the last two years*

  13. James Whale
    Thumb Up

    I seriously doubt...

    ... that anyone who's used Windows 7, even in its current beta form, will want to downgrade to XP - it's shaping up to be a very good OS.

  14. Kevin Bailey

    Don't joke about 3.1

    Don't joke about 3.1

    I remember using it happily for support, programming in Progress 4GL and connecting to all types of Unix boxes and it worked fine.

    On top of that - the whole C: drive could be backed up to a network or another HDD and it could then be restored to a new drive which had been formatted as bootable. (Especially useful when you'd been on holiday and your boss had trashed your machine whilst you were away!)

    If you only needed to run dos apps then you could and we had whole bakeries running on a 4GL application. Dosshell was loved by many of our clients as it was so easy and simple to use.

    Also, as all configuration was in .ini files you could relatively easily keep a close track of them and we had tools which kept snapshots and so we could easily see what installing an application had done and revert chages if needed.

    Then came Win95 and the dreaded registry - now we had crashing, and bizarre problems and our terminal apps stopped working and we're were dragged into the age of - use it for a bit, it will fail over time in all kinds of infuriating ways, then reinstall.

    The only shame is that now due to hardware prices the reinstall has turned into 'buy another' and so MS gain even more money as a reward for failure.

  15. Mike
    Gates Horns

    they won't do it

    They don't even do it now for Vista. I have tried several times to get Microsoft to give me the XP code for proper activation after downgrading and they WON'T do it. They offered to do it for a fee of $60.00 once. Here's what Microsoft says they WILL do (but won't).

    "When an end user is using their downgrade

    rights offered under the License Terms in

    Windows Vista Business and Ultimate versions

    and they use both Windows XP media and a

    product key that was previously activated, they

    will be unable to activate on-line over the

    Internet, due to the hardware configuration

    change when installing on the Vista system. In

    these cases the end user will be prompted to

    call the Activation Support Line and explain

    their circumstances to the Customer Service

    Representative. Once it is determined that the

    end user has a valid Vista Business or Ultimate

    license, the Customer Service Representative will

    help them activate their software."

    Here's the full pdf of what Microsoft says your downgrade rights are (but they ignore it).

  16. Neil Cooper
    Jobs Horns

    To Author: Please use correct terminology

    Microsoft's response to allegations that Vista sucks has been to try and redefine English rather than actually fix the software.

    The word "Upgrade" actually means a move that improves the general situation, such as adding extra functionality or usability. It absolutely does NOT, and never has meant just a move to something more recent regardless how bad it is.

    Since XP, Microsoft have added many artificial limitations to Windows to prevent the user from accessing the hardware features of their own PC. Extra limitations like DRM and other "in your face" annoyances like UAC prevent the user from doing things that can actually be done straightforwardly in XP.

    Consequently, moving TO Vista or Windows 7 FROM XP is clearly and logically a DOWNGRADE.

    Moving FROM Vista/Windows 7 To XP is consequently an UPGRADE.

    In future please use this correct terminology in all your articles.

  17. Jim

    Not actually a joke,

    Yes you can.. If you have a Volume License MSDN + OS.. You can downgrade to whatever you wish.

    Your joke wasn't funny enough.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @Gabriel Vistica

    Maybe. After all, MS did just finally stop selling Windows 3.1 a few months ago as I recall...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re-invent the wheel

    Windows 1, 2 & 3 were rubbish! Windows 95 was almost OK. XP is OK. The only reason M$ are changing the O/S is to make more money. At work (BT) there is a PC that has been turned on since 1993 & still running! My brand new (BT) laptop has a Vista logo on the top but only boot's to XP. So even BT feels that Vista is nasty!

  20. Robert E A Harvey
    Gates Horns

    but how?

    OK, HP might be able to offer a sidegrade to XP, but what about the rest of us? Will they ship XP on the install disk and allow small system builders or do-it-yourselfers to sidegrade?

    It's not much of a 'right' if you don't have the distribution media.

  21. Chris
    Gates Horns

    for a price

    A few months ago Dell was offering the downgrade option for $100 MORE than a straight Vista installation. The gimmick is "upgrade at your own pace". and they sold the machine with XP installed, but included a Vista upgrade disc, that you could "install when you are ready"?!

    I imagine the Windows 7 downgrade offer will work similarly.

  22. Fubar
    Gates Horns

    Windows 7 is so great...

    ... that our customer base is demanding to down grade to our OS from 7 YEARS AGO. Well done M$, with product release diagrams like this

    it's hardly a surprise you're fucked.

  23. Bunglebear
    Thumb Up

    An improvement?

    Lets hope Windows 7 is good enough that downgrading won't be required. I'm not holding my breath.

  24. Paul

    Go the whole hog!

    Go right back to Windows 3 + DOS or that Xerox OS they nicked it from :D

  25. James O'Brien
    Thumb Up

    @Gabriel Vistica

    Damn. You beat me to it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is all well and good but...

    My acer 8300s crash when I insert an XP Pro dvd.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you are missing the best point

    you are missing the best point... windows 7 ULTIMATE or PRO. so you will need to fork out for the most expensive version of windows 7 to get downgrade rights to what will then be an obsolete OS.


    all you netbookers are stuffed then

  28. Ian Coutts

    Marketing Gone Mad

    What a sales pitch! "We have this new and improved O/S called Windows 7. You really should buy it. In fact we won't allow you to buy anything else. But if after you've bought it you prefer to go back to XP we'll allow you to do that." And I wonder how much the downgrade will cost me?

    Mine's the straight-jacket.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I thought that

    OEM stuff was supported by OEMs and direct, full versions were supported by MS?

    So, OEM OS & OEM Office & OEM software = supported by OEM?

    If above interpretation is true well, its up to the OEM really.

  30. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Nothing new here

    Service Packs have always had an uninstall option, and XP is the (true) n-1 version. Though, as with any SP, you have to wonder who would want to unwind the bug fixes and return to the crawling horror.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Mainstream suppotr for XP expires?


    I am going to have to either fork out for a Doze Vista 7 license and upgrade this thing soon (I wonder if the hardware is even compatible?) or go Linux. Which means no printer*, no VPN**, no idea if my recorded movies will still play and no idea if Myth is even half as good as Media Center.

    * I could buy a new one I guess, but I don't have £200+ spare and even then it would be a shitty black and white job, no scanner etc as Linux seems to have terrible printer support. Or am I wrong?

    ** Work's VPN software is not Linux compatible. Well OK, they'll support RedHat 7 or something (thank you CheckPoint, you gits)

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft sure know

    how to give confidence to buyers of their new product -

    Buy Windows 7, best feature - you can delete it and install our discontinued OS.

    Why thank you Mr Ballmer, please have my hundred and fifty dollars/pounds.

  34. Martin Watson
    Thumb Up

    Not for me

    Think I'll be upgrading to SuSE 11.

  35. Geoff Mackenzie

    Oh noes!

    I just got my first Windows XP machine last week, and they're discontinuing it next week?! Back to Linux all round for me then.

    Seriously, why don't they just switch to free support for the 'old, boring' version when they introduce the trivial respray to sell to the morons? Some people are trying to do some work here.

  36. Paul Gorman

    Why stop at 3.1?

    2000... 95... 3.1... why not take the opportunity to downgrade to the original Windows 1.0? Surely someone at MS has it lying around somewhere?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    at last.......

    can this really be a computer vendor (finally !!!) listening to their customers needs and not just enforcing version churn.... heh this might catch on....

  38. Joe

    Windows 1995?

    I'm sure it was called "Windows Nineteen-Ninety-Five", or something...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Or better yet...

    ...just ditch Mafia$oft altogether and use Ubuntu.

    Bloody M$, they couldn't design an OS if their life depended on it.

    Paris, because she can Operate my System any day of the week.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Everyone go give your money to MS, let me get some work done

    I actually got to play with a windows 2.0 machine once. Made everything else from them look stable by comparison.

    Gotta admit i'm now a die hard linux fan. Why? The one thing that will never work with windows, "AUTOMATION".

    Do something once and dump your history. Next time you'll have 1/2 of it scripted up. After doing a task 4-5 times you should have it well automated. MS+IBM home of the GUI (great useless inconvenience)

  41. Adam

    It's a 7/Vista story, let's all say how much we hate it!

    Have any of the "I hate Vista" people ever actually USED a legitimate copy of Vista for any length of time? UAC only comes up when you're installing an app (oh noes, one more click!!!), runs far more stably than XP ever did (I've never had Vista crash) and, being a techy sort of guy, I do have sufficiently capable hardware to run the damn thing in the first place.

    I wonder how many people who slate Vista have derived their entire experience from a downloaded beta or pirate copy?

    Keep your XP, I UPgraded to Vista a couple of years ago now. :)

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Windows Genuine Advantage?

    So when the cracked, fully patched pirate versions of XP appear (for much less than the cost of a Vista license) what function does WGA have then? Discuss.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Correct me if I am wrong but....

    Volume licence customers with active SA (cringe) have always had the ability to downgrade to previous versions along the product path, even NT 3.51 if your heart desires. I'm just slightly surprised Microsoft haven't decided to enforce customers in the OEM channel to take out SA so they could still run XP - they are tw@ts after all.

    Paris because she knows how to stiff people for money

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Did you try the Vista beta? I did. It seemed a darn site better than the RTM version. And UAC isn't "just one more click during installation" is it. It is several extra clicks when doing simple system tasks on a daily basis. UAC also locks the desktop so you have to clear it AND new windows STILL steal focus. Admit it, it's a shower of shit.

    Linux fan asking about printers, if it's Apple compatible it'll probably work on linux as apple. Urrently own CUPS. Ignore the shills on here! Check teh interwebs. (iPhone wants to change shills to shits - now tell me it's a rubbish phone!)

  45. Lomax

    Three cheers for Win2k

    As someone who has the benefit of using both Windows 2000 and XP side by side since many years I have to tell you: 5.0 is STILL the BEST Microsoft OS. Lean, stable and fast with none of the disgusting "eye-candy" or frustrating "hand holding" of 5.1. I realise I risk being ridiculed and flamed to a crisp for this but there you have it - and I'm not even going to comment on Vista.


  46. Scott Mckenzie

    Upgrade to Snow Leopard... i'm sure many will!

    That said, the Win 7 Beta has actually impressed me a fair bit.... so maybe they'll be ok.

    Who knows!

  47. Tim Bates

    @ Lomax

    No need to fear ridicule.... I'll agree... 2000 was the peak. They got it right at that point. Downhill ever since with all their attempts to copy everyone else's designs.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Why stop at 3.1?

    I'm pretty sure I've still got my Windows/386 disks somewhere. 5.25" so can't read them on anything nowadsys.

  49. Chika

    @James Whale

    "I seriously doubt that anyone who's used Windows 7, even in its current beta form, will want to downgrade to XP - it's shaping up to be a very good OS."

    Depends on where it is deployed and what "goodies" are going to remain on the final release version. W7 is supposed to be slimmer than Vista, which is to the good, but one of the biggest reasons for hanging on to XP is that Vista was too bloated and power hungry to sit on the lower spec machines such as netbooks. If V7 can sit on these machines with no problem in whatever form is likely to be released for the purpose, then XP may start to die off.


    As for how it is shaping up, my concern is more along the lines of what the marketing plebes will insist on shoving into it. Left to its own devices, W7 does appear to be an improvement on Vista, though I'm not convinced that it beats XP as yet. And, lest we forget, we still have this stupid arrangement of so many release versions to bug the crap out of everyone.

  50. Rob Elliott


    What shocks me is how so many of you can slate a product that isn't even finished yet. I've been running Windows7 on my laptop since Christmas, so far it looks promising. Generally the feedback from other people has been good.

    To those of you that bitch about Vista being slower, well of course it is, but if you run Vista on decent hardware in 7years time you won't have anything to complain about. When Windows XP arrived it run well on anything from 800mhz and 64MB RAM and above. People bitched at the time because it was slow on their 400Mhz and 32MB machines. Now 2-3Ghz Dual Core and 2GB RAM is common.

    I think we call it progress in the IT Industry. Hardware gets faster, so the software takes advantage of it.

    If we only cared about speed then the command line OS would still rule.

  51. Jerry Love

    So many experts...

    on here, all slagging off an os that's still in beta! Have any of you seriously tried 7? I'm "only" interested in computers as a hobby but having three desktops running XP Pro and 2000 Pro, laptop running Vista Ultimate ( all legal-Technet) and one running 7 Ultimate plus a couple of lappys running Linux Mint and Fedora I find myself really shocked at this my OS is better than yours crap! As already stated by another, 7 is shaping up to be the best OS from MS yet. Faster and a lot more stable than Vista with UAC easily turned off, far more functionality than XP and a lot easier to use than any flavour of Linux I can't wait until it's officially released.

  52. Sam Radford
    Jobs Halo

    Decisions decisions....

    Oh, what a quandary! Should I buy "Snow Leopard" for my Mac or should I run Boot Camp and buy Windoze 7 then "upgrade" to XP? Hmm, such a difficult choice. Now let me think....

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