Report: Microsoft relaxes Windows downgrade rules

Clues point to late October release of Windows 7, possible change in XP support

Microsoft Corp. has relaxed its "downgrade" rules and will let computer makers continue to sell PCs preinstalled with the aged Windows XP for as long as six months after it launches Windows 7, according to a report published Wednesday.

The information obtained by TechARP.com, a Malaysian Web site that last weekend leaked Microsoft's plans to offer free or discounted upgrades to Windows 7, seems to confirm other reports that Hewlett-Packard Co. had been given the green light to sell new PCs with XP Professional through April 2010.

Yesterday, TechARP spelled out the new options Microsoft will offer computer makers such as HP and Dell Inc.

For six months after Windows 7's official launch, a date Microsoft calls "general availability," Microsoft will let OEMs sell new PCs equipped with Windows XP Professional and market them as such directly to customers or through their channel partners. Those machines must include physical media for Vista Business or Vista Ultimate, the two editions that provide downgrade rights.

"Downgrade" describes the Windows licensing rights that let users -- or, in their stead, computer manufacturers -- replace the current operating system with an older edition without having to pay for another license. Those XP Professional PCs must be advertised as such, TechARP said, noting a number of Microsoft requirements. "OEMs may market this option [but] advertising must primarily and 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 Vista Business)' would meet this requirement," Microsoft has told computer makers.

But even though they will include a copy of Vista in the box, these new XP computers may not sport the Windows Vista logo, Microsoft warned OEMs.

That is a twist on current practice, since Microsoft now requires computer manufacturers to advertise PCs as running Vista Business or Vista Ultimate, but then lets them factory-install XP Professional in place of Vista at the customer's request. With the exception of netbooks, computer makers have not been allowed to sell PCs as XP systems since June 2008.

In the same memorandum obtained by TechARP, Microsoft also detailed the downgrade rights that it will build into Windows 7, the operating system now working its way through development and testing. According to TechARP, only the two most-expensive editions of Windows 7 -- Professional and Ultimate -- will include downgrade rights. That's not surprising; Microsoft limited downgrades from Vista to XP to the two most expensive versions of the former as well.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftWindows 7windows xpWindows Vistawindows downgrade

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?