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 Understanding downgrade rights

Windows downgrade rights
The availability of Windows 8 presents a great opportunity for you to consult with your customers and grow your business. With higher levels of reliability, security, performance, administration and support offered by Windows 8, you can make a strong business case for the Windows 8 operating system.

Downgrade rights overview

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.

Why would customers use downgrade rights?


  • Your customer's organisation needs a new system running on the same platform as its existing systems—Windows 7 Professional.

Downgrade rights offer a practical solution. The customer can:

  • 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 and Windows Server software eligible for downgrade rights
Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Server 2008

OEM versions of Windows 8 eligible for downgrade

Windows 8 Pro includes downgrade rights to:

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows Vista Business



Downgrade rights process

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.

The downgrade process

Follow these steps to downgrade to a previous version of Windows or Windows Server software:

  1. 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.
  2. Insert the downgrade-eligible version of Windows media in the CD drive and follow the installation instructions.
  3. 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.
  4. Activate the software.

Authorising a third party to exercise downgrade rights for an end user

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.

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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