Microsoft puts an 18-month cap on Windows 7 to XP downgrades

Microsoft puts an 18-month cap on Windows 7 to XP downgrades

Summary: Microsoft has gone public with a piece of its Windows 7 to XP downgrade guarantee that it refused to make official until yesterday: The end date. It appears the company is planning to allow volume licensees to downgrade to XP from Windows 7 until April 2011 at the latest.

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Microsoft has gone public with a piece of its Windows 7 to XP downgrade guarantee that it refused to  make official until yesterday: The end date.

Volume licensees who buy Windows are provided automatically with guaranteed downgrade rights to previous versions of Windows. A Windows 7 volume licensee has the right to downgrade to Vista, Windows XP or other previous versions of Windows, according to Microsoft's policies.

Earlier this year, Microsoft officials refused to confirm a report which claimed that the company planned to limit the length of time it would allow users to downgrade from Windows 7 to XP to six months after Windows 7 shipped. The leaked memo pegged that date at April 2010, which both Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (the OEM mentioned in the memo) declined to confirm.

On June 17, however, Microsoft officials told Computerworld that the downgrade period during which users will be allowed to move from Windows 7 to XP is going to end, at the latest, in April 2011, which is 18 months after the October 22, 2009 general availability date for Windows 7.

A Microsoft spokesperson provided the publication with the following statement:

"Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack, whichever is sooner, and if a service pack is developed."

(Oh no! Here we go again with the "when and if a service pack is developed." Forget the fact that there already have been sightings of what is believed to be early leaked SP 1 builds for Windows 7. Microsoft tried hide the fact that a Vista SP1 was in the wings; sadly, it looks like the same strategy will be in place with Windows 7 -- in spite of the fact that many business users still use a first SP as a guideline for their deployment plans.)

Back to the 18-month cap. While many can't imagine wanting or needing to downgrade from 7 to XP, for some business users, this ability is a necessity. A substantial number of businesses are still running XP and aren't keen on making an abrupt or wholesale move to a brand-new operating system, especially before their custom line-of-business applications are certified as compatible.

I'm curious as to why Microsoft is capping downgrade rights with XP -- other than for the obvious reason that it is trying to push users to move off of its eight-year-old operating system. I've asked the company for further comment and will add it to this post if and when I receive it.

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

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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  • You answered your own question.

    [i]I?m curious as to why Microsoft is capping downgrade rights with XP ? other than for the obvious reason that it is trying to push users to move off of its [b]eight-year-old[/b] operating system. I?ve asked the company for further comment and will add it to this post if and when I receive it.[/i]

    That's eight years right now. Come April 2011 Windows XP will be almost 10 years old and Windows Vista will be over four years old.

    I think the expectation for Microsoft to continue making Windows XP available 10 years after it's release is getting way out of hand.

    ye
    • But, the fact that so many still prefer XP over Windows 7 speaks volumes

      And, the reason for the limit is that it is
      getting really embarrassing that MS customers
      still use XP, and MS is trying to give gentle
      pushes. Look for them to extend the deadline
      though.
      DonnieBoy
      • ??????

        Windows 7 won't even be available until Fall, so your statement is a bit premature.
        itpro_z
      • Lol, says who?...

        Windows 7 isn`t out yet, and except for the tech geeks, most people haven`t tried it yet. But since it is getting positive reviews almost everywhere, as opposed to Vista, which mostly got negative reviews, most people will prbably like it.
        Even my GF, who partially hates Vista, likes windows 7 (but i`m not letting her use it as a main OS, it is still in beta testing)

        So my dear sir, you fail at trolling.
        NeoGeneration
      • Oh Noes!!!!

        [i]But, the fact that so many still prefer XP over Windows 7 speaks volumes[/i]

        They prefer a stable OS to one that hasn't even gone RTM yet. Now that's a shock. What was your first clue Sherlock?
        Badgered
      • Source your facts....

        please show us the study re: Win7 vs. WinXP

        Otherwise I'll just consider this one more notch in the DB belt of FUD shame.

        ZDnet must pay well.
        JoeMama_z
        • My two cents

          I believe that a majority of people will
          perhaps migrate to Windows 7 if they are pushed
          by other elements, such as software packages
          that require you to use Windows 7 instead of
          Windows XP. Certain games can require that if
          they need Direct X 10, or 11 when it comes out.
          You have to feel bad for Microsoft, but
          surprised at the same time. They actually made
          an OS that everyone loves and wants to continue
          using, and they don't want to use anything else
          but XP. I'm sure with time that will change
          with the benefits of using Windows 7 over
          Windows XP, as well as software developers
          pushing people to upgrade their old computers
          for better, faster running machines.
          imkain@...
          • Let me add a few pennies to your common cents collection.

            MS has failed to release an OS that the vast majority of thier own users want and it has been 8+ years and still counting.

            Have you guys stopped to think about that little fact?

            Tell me again why MS is so great?

            And don't even think about telling me all about market share because the only reason they still have market share has everything to do with two simple factors. All the MS loyal retarded IT people who are too afraid of change (effin sissy bois) and the fact that it cost some serious bucks to replace all those microcrud servers with xserves. (effin expensive)

            But as far as the "Windows 7+ years in the making and its not that great" operating system, I fully expect MS to use the same tactics they used to get people off win95, win 98, and win2k... Neglect the OS and jack up the license fee. So yes, they will eventually bully people off XP, but it will come down to just that.

            Tell me again why MS is so great?
            i8thecat
          • How can you tell me

            That people don't want 7? It's not even released yet....

            They may not want Vista. For one reason or another, Vista's tarnished image has kept the majority off of it. But Windows 7 has gotten nothing short of a standing ovation from most users testing it. Most of, if not, all of those people have no qualms about suggesting it to other users.

            Microsoft wants users off of XP for a reason. Its itching to throw the product out the door, and though it may have extended its support, something I applaud them for doing, [b]however they're not going to 'force' you to do anything. If you want to continue running XP, thats your own business[/b], however, once April 2014 comes along, you're on your own...
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • But by 2011

        XP will be 10 almost 11 years old. Think about that from a CEO's perspective.

        You're a technology company, that in order to stay relevant, needs to look towards the future... They don't care that you still use XP, however, don't expect them to support it.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Prefer XP is perplexing

        Agree that win7 isn't out yet, but Vista has been snubbed in the
        enterprise. I had the unfortunate duty to hope on an XP machine the
        other day (graphic driver issues and I was the only technical person
        available). What a joke of an OS. That it is still being used in 2009 is
        unbelievable.

        Had a graphics designer start a few weeks ago. I recommended he go
        Mac, we'd buy him a new one. He insisted on a PC. Come into work
        today and he's got the cover open trying to isolate problems. I'd
        estimate it has taken over 50% of his time to get the system to a
        productive state, a goal not yet obtained. I sit back laughing. It's not
        my money. He even continues to defend his a decision!
        Richard Flude
        • Seven will be snubbed, too.

          Do you honestly think the minute Seven comes out, businesses are going to drop XP like a bad habit and go to Seven?

          No.

          There's an old business philosophy when it comes to MS products and upgrading: Wait until the first SP. In my career as a sysadmin for various employers, we've never, ever, migrated to a new Windows OS until at least one SP comes out and the OS is proven to be fully stable.

          For business it's all about the ROI. ROI killed Vista because of the compatibility problems. No business was going to touch it. I hate to say it, but Seven suffers the same compatibility issues, only to a lesser degree. The foundation of Seven is still a stripped down Vista.

          The only upsides to Seven are more modern hardware support (but even this is miniscule, I've yet to find a piece of hardware I couldn't install on XP Pro), more mainstream 64-bit availability (most business clients do NOT need 64-bit capabilities), and some increased security (not sure if BitLocker is going to be in Seven or not).

          Once again, IT management are going to be looking at Seven, waiting for a SP, then calculating the ROI of switching. I've yet to see Microsoft make any case that Seven is substantially better for business than almost 10-year-old XP. I've yet to see anyone praising Seven talk about how business would immediately benefit from switching because, frankly, they won't benefit until the kinks are ironed out.
          Captiosus
          • except

            Vista wasn't snubbed, it had a massive FUD campaign, spearheaded by Apple, against it.

            Thankfully (for MS) most businesses have clued in and started doing their own research, ignoring the nonsense coming out of the roughlydrafted's of the world.

            The US army is moving to three quarters of a million machines to Vista by the end of the year, wanna tell us again what a huge failure it is? Maybe write a letter to your representative and tell them what an ROI drain Vista is?

            It's time to face facts, the Anti-Vista campaign worked for a while, congrats on that. Unfortunately (for your post), those days are over, and Win7 will not succumb to the insanity coming out of the ABM camp.
            rtk
          • except

            [i]Vista wasn't snubbed, it had a massive FUD campaign, spearheaded by Apple, against it.[/i]

            Riiight. And I had flying saucers land in my backyard, too... lol....:D

            No, it's time Microshaft take some responsibility for their screw ups. After almost six years of development, it still wasn't ready to be released. Blaming the end user and the OEMs didn't advance their cause at all.

            [i]Thankfully (for MS) most businesses have clued in and started doing their own research, ignoring the nonsense coming out of the roughlydrafted's of the world.[/i]

            On the corporate side where I work, only about 30% of the machines use Viista. The rest are still on XP. There's talk that they'll hang on to XP a while longer and wait for Win7, skipping Viista altogether. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

            [i]The US army is moving to three quarters of a million machines to Vista by the end of the year, wanna tell us again what a huge failure it is? Maybe write a letter to your representative and tell them what an ROI drain Vista is?[/i]

            Pretty dumb on their part, but I'm not surprised. I'm sure the enemy will hack into their systems shortly, so the only thing left for them to do is to fully embrace IIS servers and re-enable the USB ports.

            more lol... :D

            [i]It's time to face facts, the Anti-Vista campaign worked for a while, congrats on that. Unfortunately (for your post), those days are over, and Win7 will not succumb to the insanity coming out of the ABM camp.[/i]

            Too little, too late. Viista's days are over now that Win7 is around the corner. Serves them right for foisting an underachieving bloated piece of crap on the public, in the first place.

            I really do hope Win7 is better. For Microshaft's sake.
            Wintel BSOD
      • RE: XP Was/IS Best, Most Stable OS YET

        I have used every OS Microsoft ever released, and Vist is, next to Millennium the worst yet. Xp was, for me and many others a stable, dependable OS and that is the reason most of us--even home users who like me begged on our hands and knees not to be forced into Vista.
        STARTWYNKLES-58
      • XP still good choice as it works and has drivers

        ##
        tbones.2
  • what about flexible licensing model

    MS releases new version of windows every few years. Every new version contains bulk of functionality. In between these major releases they have service packs and patches once in a while. Instead of delivering large number of changes every new version, they should deliver small number of changes going into new version but at smaller interval. Preferably every month. New release every month can be updated through automated process and should include new features, enhancements and bug fixes.

    Business users can pay small fee on monthly basis instead of buying complete OS initially.

    Existing applications should remain compatible for many years from their first development. This way busines IT departments will have confidence of upgrading to latest version of windows at any given moment.
    p.vinnie@...
    • If written to MS guidelines they should.

      [i]Existing applications should remain compatible for many years from their first development.[/i]

      The problem is too many applications didn't follow Microsofts guidelines. Perhaps Microsoft should offer a binary compatability guarantee like the one Sun offers.
      ye
    • Nightmare

      That would be a living hell for developers trying to ensure their software was compatible for each and every release (you know that one release three months ago has a problem that was introduced, but it's not in the version two months ago). Same goes for IT staffs. Doing testing on XP, Server versions, Vista, with the various combination of service packs (sometimes even .NET frameworks) is already a pain in the ass.
      Yensi717
  • not really sp1

    The "Service Pack 1" builds of Win7 were just to test the servicing stack. They chose a base build like RC and then created service packs to newer builds (so instead of installing a newer build via upgrade, you could do it over Windows Update as a service pack). But the resulting install was equivalent to a regular pre-RTM Win7 build.
    zdanms