Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

Summary: Microsoft is sending some very confusing signals about Windows Vista -- the latest of which it issued via a statement on October 3.


Microsoft is sending some very confusing signals about Windows Vista -- the latest of which it issued via a statement on October 3.

The Register reported on October 2 that Microsoft was going to extend again the date until which PC makers would be allowed to continue to offer Windows users "downgrade rights," enabling them to switch from Vista to XP on new machines. The Reg said Microsoft had moved the downgrade cut-off date from January 31, 2009 to July 31, 2009.

I asked Microsoft about the Reg's report and got this statement, via a company spokesperson:

 "As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible. Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment, as is the Windows Vista Small Business Assurance program (available in the U.S. only), which provides 1-on-1, customized support for our small business customers."

In other words, the Reg's story was correct.

The spokesperson sent further clarification:

"What’s changing is Microsoft is giving six more months where it will provide downgrade media for XP Professional for OEMs and system builders to provide to their customers who purchase Windows Vista Ultimate and Business editions – (which the company figures will be) largely going to be small businesses since that’s the audience that would want/use XP Pro. So it’s the same old downgrade right thing that was in the EULA (End User License Agreement) before; it's just Microsoft is providing the media to partners a few months more."

"The same caveat  with providing the downgrade media as before applies, which is OEMs and system builders don’t have to do so if they don’t want – it’s their business decision to make."

Microsoft has extended XP's end-of-life date before. In Apri 2008 l, Microsoft officials said the company was not going to extend again the date on which it required OEMs to stop preloading XP on new machines. That date was June 30, 2008. Microsoft did say that system builders, a k a white box vendors, would be allowed to continue to preload XP on new systems until January 31, 2009. OEMs and system builders both were OK'd to continue preloading XP on new ultra-low-cost systems through 2010, as many of those systems were and are incapable of running Vista.

Bottom line: Even though Microsoft is maintaining publicly that Vista is finally ready for prime time, it is allowing PC makers to continue to offer customers XP. So what's a user to believe? Is Microsoft really standing behind Vista? And if it's not -- but instead is doing what customers really want (while simply giving lip-service to Vista's readiness -- is that still a positive?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • How does this compare to...

    ...the downgrade options from XP to 2000 offered by, say, HP in 200-2001?

    It's interesting and shows that a lot of small corporations still want XP. Not sure it'll overly influence total growth though.
    Sleeper Service
    • Also...

      ...the audience of this extension seems very specific - small business who are running legacy apps or older peripherals.

      So, this story seems to be saying "MS offer extension of XP downgrade to a very limited set of small business customers who need to use XP becasue of upgrade costs or busines critical legacy apps whilst continuing to succsefully sell Vista to private and large corporations".

      Move along. Nothing to see here.
      Sleeper Service
      • So...

        you still haven't figured out you can go back and edit your posts yet? Or you can't see the edit button in IE? ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • No...

's a supplementary point made two days later.

          Plus I use Firefox and the post was typed on my Ubuntu box.

          Still the king of false assumptions I see.
          Sleeper Service
  • MS extends XP downgrade rights by six months

    I did my share of begging to MS to "let the customer be right" concerning XPs continuing desirability,Thank god they actually listened to mine and probably a half million similar letters.I can now look forward to enjoying my next machine instead of dreading tossing out a thousand dollars of incompatible hardware and even more in software.
  • Stardate: 2436.9

    Microsoft has acquesced and agreed to allow OEMs to load Windows XP on new machines as a downgrade to Windows122. The extension allows OEMs to load XP until Stardate 2482.5. But the company, in showing who's the boss, is putting it's foot down and saying that, after that, dealers can no longer downgrade to XP. After that expiration, the lowest version allowed for downgrade will be Vista, showing that, by that date, Vista will be ready for primetime. ;-)
  • Looks like they're squirming

    The desktop OS will still be relevant for a number of years. It's what made Microsoft and it's how they are defined. That's the price of their success. If Windows 7, or what ever they name it, repeats Vista's mistakes then I think Microsoft is finished. They absolutely cannot screw this one up. But they will, somehow. I suspect they will continue to sell XP until Vista's replacement is ready to go. After all, the customers want the transition to be as "smooth as possible" wink, wink.
  • They looked at what real customers were doing, and...


    Corporations are still shying away from Vista. More
    importantly, so are knowledgeable retail customers. Unless
    you've the high geek-quotient knowledge and tools to
    make Vista do as well as it can on your own kit, you don't
    want the hassle - and by now, everybody's heard how
    much hassle is involved from a friend of a friend or a
    brother-in-law or whoever. The buzz on Vista, outside
    those who professionally depend on it, is execrable.

    I was in our local stocks-everything consumer-electronics
    shop a few days ago (which sells PCs, Macs and everything
    else; sort of like a competent, pleasant Fry's, if you can
    imagine that), looking at some of the new Sony vs. Apple
    laptops. A guy came up to the sales desk, wife, kid and
    stroller in tow, and asked if they could sell him any PC with
    XP instead of VIsta. The sales guy responded that
    everything they had in stock came with Vista; he could
    install XP by ordering it from the OEM. He then walked
    over to the Apple area. When I walked over a few minutes
    later, he was looking very intently at a new iMac (3.06
    GHz, 24", etc.). When I asked him why, he said he'd been
    very frustrated dealing with a PC with Vista Home Basic on
    it. One of his friends got a MacBook last year when the
    phone company was giving them away with new DSL
    contracts, and he (the friend) couldn't stop raving about it.
    So here he was.

    I think Microsoft know far too many people like this guy
    for their comfort, and are trying to buy time until they can
    rush Windows 7 out the door, in the hope that it will be
    sufficiently better than Vista to at least slow the bleeding. I
    actually hope they're right. I'd much rather see a less
    arrogant, more customer-driven, almost certainly post-
    Ballmer Microsoft than none at all. I think any company
    can only survive a certain number of Vista-class farkups,
    and this is going to remain in people's minds for a long,
    long time. As much as I like my experience with Apple, I
    wouldn't want them to be the only big player in the
    industry; there is something to be said for the Avis motto
    ("We're #2. We try harder.") Being #1, especially when there
    is a huge gap between you and #[i]n[/i], makes it too easy
    to become arrogant, sloppy, paranoid; to lose sight of the
    importance of keeping your real customers happy... in
    other words, too easy to become what Microsoft is
    characterized as (caricatured as?) today.
    Jeff Dickey
    • So who are fake customers?

  • When they quit extending downgrade rights

    When they quit extending downgrade rights, there's a MOUNTAIN of perfectly serviceable hardware out there that wants to be free.

    Perhaps there's a serviceable OS and attendant few basic apps that would fill the needs of many people? Someone could even make a buck doing the servicing part.

    Jack-Booted EULA
  • RE: Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

    Its about time Microsoft thought of the customer first and their bottom line second...sure Windows must evolve to keep pace with the business and consumer demand....but when any company tries to "force" upgrade when it isn't necessary, it's just a shortcut to lower market shares.

    I'm glad to hear MS is finally stepping up to the plate and doing the RIGHT thing. Maybe there's hope for MS afterall :)
    • This is surely about the bottom line first...

      If "no Vista" = "no sale" and Microsloth approves installing XP, it's most certainly about the bottom line. Doing whatever it takes to get the money in the door. Because, on the bottom line, that XP install is really a Vista sale. They purchased a Vista product with the right to downgrade. Furthermore, they get to count it as a Vista sale. "Hey, look how good Vista is selling!"
      • But how many are actually downgrading?

        The rights are just a selling point, no different then any other company does. It's a free option, so ordering Vista with it doesn't change the price any.

        It's not that [i]everyone[/i] is buying Vista with the intentions of downgrading, rather, this option gives people with a concern that the software they already own might not work with Vista an avenue to use should that be the case.

        All the while being a totally leagal installation of windows.

        So it'a really about both: giving customers what they want, while MS makes money off of the sale of their software.

        No different then any other company.
        • Actually, I'm one....

          I needed to buy a new desktop last November, I didn't want Vista. Too many of my friends and colleagues told me they didn't like it when they purchased a new PC. So, when it came time to buy, I saw that CompUSA had a Systemax that could come with XP Pro installed as a "downgrade". So, I have a Vista Business license that, as of this writing, I have no intention of using.
          • And that's fine

            but it doesn't change the reasoning behind it.

            My wife's new computer is running Vista Business (I don't buy anything with the word "Home" in it!) because a couple of her brothers have been using it and liking it, plus what she's seen of it at her work.

            I went with the downgrade rights since they were free, as a backup, in case of problems, but she likes it the way it is, so I never had to use it.

            But it was nice to have the option in case our software wouldn't have worked on it
        • My School downgraded

          The school that I work at bought 4 new computers (2 desktops and 2 laptops) over the summer. The school business administrator had XP Professional installed on all of them. Even though they have the Vista license keys attached to the computers and count as Vista sales, they are really XP sales. Just another example of how the Vista sales figures are skewed.
  • RE: Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

    At the root, Vista is still all about DRM. I don't think
    they will change that "feature", and that will doom
    the next Windows version. Genuine Advantage,
    Trusted Computing, etc.
  • The title is misleading. It should be:

    "Microsoft extends availability of XP downgrade media by six months".

    The current title has led people (at least in the talkbacks) to conclude Microsoft changed something with the right to downgrade. To my knowledge the ability to downgrade is perpetual and never had an expiration date.
    • Who at Microsoft is your source for this?

      [iTo my knowledge the ability to downgrade is perpetual and
      never had an expiration date.[/i]

      Who is your source for this or are you referring to people at
      an individual level downgrading (rather than an OEM)?
      • End user. I have seen nothing showing a deadline for downgrading.