Users who purchase Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 8 and find that they are unsatisfied with its performance will be able to downgrade the OS to Windows 7 or Vista without paying for additional licences.
“Instead of using the Windows 8 Pro software, you may use one of the following earlier versions: Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business,” reads a line from Windows 8’s software license agreement for the Pro version. It’s the same version that will be shipped with the sales on new computers from electronic retailers.
While Windows XP is still hugely in use, it is expected that Microsoft is soon to cancel support for the aging operating system – as users will not be able to revert back to it once Windows 8 has been installed.
“So no downgrade rights to XP. Also note that the soon-to-come Office 2013 will not support XP. So we can see they are trying to strangle the life out of XP. What I don’t know is how long Microsoft will keep XP available for download on VLSC for volume licensing customers after the debut of Windows 8,” said Kenny Chan, a technology specialist for CDW.
As stated above, only users who buy a computer from an electronics store pre-installed with Windows 8 Pro will be able to downgrade. Those user who buy a retail copy of Windows 8 Pro will not be able to revert back. “Neither the manufacturer or installer, nor Microsoft, is obligated to supply earlier versions to you. You must obtain the earlier version separately,” read the licensing agreement with Microsoft.
The operation can also work in reverse, where “OEMs will be able to offer new Windows 8 Pro PCs that are downgraded to, for example, Windows 7 Professional, at the factory,” wrote PC World. Those users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 free-of-charge.
“At any time, you may replace an earlier version with Windows 8 Pro,” continued the licensing agreement from Microsoft.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor