Personal and business customers who purchase Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, will have the right to downgrade to Windows XP until the end of the Windows 7 life cycle in 2020, Microsoft announced Monday. The announcement coincided with the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Beta release, which was already expected for a July release.
The downgrade option to Windows XP was originally supposed to last only 6 months beyond the release of Windows 7, but was extended to 18 months or the release of Windows 7 SP1, whichever would come first. However, Microsoft reportedly decided to provide this second, unusually lengthy extension out of consideration to business customers.
A blog post from Microsoft, regarding the extension, explains, “While the majority of customers are actively transitioning to Windows 7, and PC manufacturers are focused on delivering PCs and devices with Windows 7 preinstalled, our business customers have told us that removing end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional could be confusing, given the rights change would be made for new PCs preinstalled with Windows 7, and managing a hybrid environment with PCs that have different end-user rights based on date of purchase would be challenging to track.”
Some are speculating, however, that the move by Microsoft has more to do with the popularity of XP among businesses rather than license-tracking purposes. 74% of businesses are still running XP, according to a Microsoft executive at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, DC.
Others think that the downgrade extension is due to power-hungry Windows 7 dragging down systems, which tempts consumers to revert back to XP for better performance. “We have a high uptake rate on retrograde XP conversions (mainly from Vista) and are already working through a backlog of requests for 7 customers wanting the same”, posted one Pocket-Lint commenter. “Most of these requests have come from consumers who rushed to buy the ‘upgrade’ to 7, only to find their systems (1Gb and 2Gb) crawling post installation.”
Whatever the reason, I applaud Microsoft for the unprecedented move. A greater range of choice is rarely a bad thing for consumers.