Downgrade rights are an end-user right, documented in the Software Licence Terms that customers accept upon first running Windows software.
Note that end user downgrade rights will be available through the sales life cycle of Windows and Windows Server operating systems, which is up to two years after the launch date of a new version.
Get more information about Windows life cycle and Windows product availability policies.
- Your customer's organisation needs a new system running on the same platform as its existing systems—Windows 7 Professional.
- Purchase a PC with Windows 8 Pro preinstalled.
- Downgrade—at no additional cost—to Windows 7 Professional.
- Move to Windows 8 Pro at the appropriate time. The system is licensed and ready for conversion.
Windows 8 Pro includes downgrade rights to:
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows Vista Business
Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate include downgrade rights to:
- Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate.
- Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or Windows XP x64 Edition.
Note Other OEM Windows 7 versions (for instance, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium) do not include downgrade rights.
Only certain OEM versions of Windows Server include downgrade rights. See below for the eligible versions.
- Windows Server 2008 Standard includes downgrade rights to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition.
- Windows Server 2008 Enterprise includes downgrade rights to Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.
- Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium includes downgrade rights to Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition or Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2.
To downgrade Microsoft Windows or Windows Server software, customers must:
- Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows or Windows Server software.
- Accept the End User Software Licence Terms.
- Perform the downgrade or authorise a third party to perform it on their behalf.
Follow these steps to downgrade to a previous version of Windows or Windows Server software:
- Obtain genuine Windows media and a corresponding product key for the version of Windows that is eligible for downgrade.
- The media should come from a prior legally licensed version from the OEM or Retail channels.
- End users who are licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) may provide their VL media and key to a system builder to facilitate the downgrade on their own systems.
- Insert the downgrade-eligible version of Windows media in the CD drive and follow the installation instructions.
- Type the product key.
- If the software was previously activated, you will not be able to activate it online. In this case, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed. Call the number and explain the circumstances. When it is determined that the end user has an eligible Windows licence, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code to activate the software. Please note that Microsoft does not provide a full product key in this scenario.
- Activate the software.
See additional details and FAQ
Provided that certain requirements are met, end users may request that another party perform the downgrade on their behalf. The following document provides clarity about how to meet those requirements, and what that process entails.
End User Downgrade Rights Facilitation Options .pdf 88 KB
Because downgrade rights apply to end users, they are not primarily designed for third-party facilitation, which has many complications. Also, such facilitation is not suitable for carrying out on a large scale.
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