Windows 7 Ultimate and Professional – Downgrade and Upgrade policy – First Look!


With Windows 7 launch just round the corner, I am getting more and more requests for licensing info, so lets look at the hot topic of downgrades and upgrades


Windows 7 Ultimate and Professional customers will have even more options to access prior versions of Windows than they do today:

    • The current downgrade policy allows for OEM-licensed Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate users to downgrade to Windows XP Professional
    • For Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate, the OEM license will also enable downgrades to Windows Vista for an unlimited period of time.    
    • In addition, 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.

PCs covered by a Windows Volume License, so a Volume Licensing Win Upgrade License, will continue to have downgrade rights to any prior version of Windows 7. Software Assurance is recommended for customers that require full flexibility to upgrade or downgrade their PCs to older or new versions of Windows or require multi-language interface <MUI>


Q & A:

Q:  How will this work for businesses who buy at retail (SMBs in particular)?

A: The downgrades are included in the OEM end user license agreement that is included with the PC, regardless if the PC is purchased at retail or direct from an OEM.


Q: What is Software Assurance?

A: Software Assurance a comprehensive maintenance offering that provides a broad range of benefits through the agreement terms. It provides customers with access to the latest technology and productivity benefits such as training, support and services. Software Assurance helps customers get the most value from their IT investments through 18 benefits including:

  • Step-up licenses —provide SA customers with more choices to upgrade to enterprise products. We have heard from our customers that they need the ability to go from a standard to enterprise edition without having to re-purchase a new license, so we have made it a permanent offering for our SA customers.
  • New, unique versions of Microsoft® Windows® tailored to the needs of the enterprise
  • Predictable budgeting for software and support, including new access to 24×7 phone support and unlimited Web support
  • Improved productivity for knowledge workers and IT staff
  • Quicker, simpler deployments, support and management with advanced, powerful, useful tools and on-site consulting
  • Significant savings in training costs
  • Introduction of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack- a set of advanced desktop management technologies that helps customers build a dynamic Windows IT infrastructure to deliver applications as services. 


Q: How does SA help my business become more efficient?
Software Assurance combines a broad range of benefits into one program to help customers deploy, manage, and migrate software. Collectively, these benefits help manage costs and improve employee and organizational productivity.

  • Boost Productivity: Customers can access a complete set of productivity benefits, including training and technologies to help you improve collaboration, streamline communications and content, and enhance business intelligence throughout the organization.
  • Empower Workers: Organizations can get more out of Microsoft’s flexible, scalable application platform by giving Developers, IT Professionals, and end-users the tools, training, and support they need to help deliver more business value.
  • Secure the Infrastructure: Software Assurance can help secure core infrastructure through integrated management and security solutions that help increase organizational agility, reduce system complexity, improve services, and control costs.


Windows 7 Professional also includes Windows XP Mode, to help small business run older applications that require Windows XP – More on this to follow!



  1. Emma -When you have a moment.. Will MVLS customers be able to use Win7 Enterprise media to do in-place upgrades to XP-Pro Campus installs or will we have to use a new version of the user migration tool?TIA, Alasdair, Uni.of Reading

  2. Hi, My laptop bought from a retailer in Nov \’09, came with WindowsXP Pro installed downgraded from Windows 7 Pro. They have not supplied any media for WinXp or Win7. How can I use windows 7 in-place of WindowsXP?Thanks,

  3. HI TepjalThe retailer, I am assuming you purchased OEM, has an obligation to provide a recovery solution to you, either disks, DVD/CDs or a recovery partition, if this is not the case, you need to speak directly to this retailer on thisCheersEmma

  4. Hi Emma,You mention that we can consider Volume Licensing Upgrades or Software Assurance to continue the "downgrade right" to Windows XP Professional. Can you please confirm that if I buy a PC with Windows 7 Professional OEM TODAY I will have the rights to either:(1) Downgrade to Windows XP Professional ONLY within the window of time (19 months after GA I will need to upgrade to Win 7 or Vista – maybe use XP Mode), or(2) Downgrade to Windows XP Professional for as long as I like (without VL Upgrade or SA).Joe.

  5. Hi JoeIf you buy an OEM PC today or any day up until 18months from Win 7 Release or SP1. whichever comes first, you have the PERPETUAL right to downgrade to N-2 = Windows XP Pro, if you so wish, you are not required to "upgrade" to Win 7 when we remove the N-2 right, but, Windows 7 is great – You should definitly try it :-)Hope this helpsEmma

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