Downgrade rights for Windows software | Downgrade rights for Windows Server software
Downgrade rights are an end-user right, documented in the Software License Terms that customers accept upon first running Windows software. Thanks to downgrade rights, end users who have acquired a more recent version of the software (such as Windows 8 Pro) can use a prior version of the software (such as Windows 7 Professional) until they are ready to move to the more recent version. Not all products include downgrade rights. But if a product includes downgrade rights, the license terms for that product will indicate which prior versions of the software may be used.
The following OEM versions of Windows software are eligible for downgrade rights.
|Windows 8 Pro includes downgrade rights to:
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows Vista Business
|Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate include downgrade rights to: |
Note Other OEM Windows 7 versions (for example, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium) do not include downgrade rights.
- Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate
- Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or Windows XP x64 Edition
To downgrade Microsoft Windows 8 or Windows 7 software, customers must:
- Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software.
- Accept the End User Software License Terms.
- Perform the downgrade or authorize a third party to perform it on their behalf.
Follow these steps to downgrade to a previous version of Windows 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.
- Qualified OEMs have the option to distribute downgrade media and product keys directly to end users, per end user request.
- 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 license, 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 explains how to meet those requirements and what the 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.
Note Distribution of downgrade media and product keys is not permitted in the system builder and reseller channels.
The following OEM versions of Windows Server software are eligible for downgrade:
2012 Datacenter Edition
2012 Standard Edition
2003 R2, 2003, etc
|End customers may also downgrade to any previous versions. |
End users may use any existing software media or product key to install and activate downgrade or down-edition software*. The downgrade software and product key may be from any channel (Volume Licensing (VL), OEM, or retail) and does not need to match the channel license type that is assigned to the server.
- End user provided. Customers who have existing solutions or environments with a previous version of Windows Server may use any existing media and product key to exercise their downgrade rights. The downgrade software and product key can be from any channel (OEM, VL, or Retail).
- Microsoft provided. Prior to September 30, 2012, Microsoft provided downgrade media and product keys directly to end users via a Windows Server fulfillment website. Due to low utilization rates, Microsoft no longer provides this service.
- OEM partner provided. Direct OEM partners with a royalty OEM agreement (HP, Dell, etc.) have the option to distribute downgrade media and product keys directly to end users, per end user request. This is optional, so not all direct OEMs will provide this service.
* A down-edition is a lower edition of Windows Server software. For example, lower editions of Windows Server Datacenter edition would include Windows Server Enterprise, Windows Server Standard, and Windows Server Web edition.
Only certain OEM versions of Windows Server 2008 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.