Microsoft has decided to give businesses some more time to move off of Windows XP.
Until now, those buying new PCs with Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Professional have had the option to downgrade those machines to Windows XP. Microsoft had said this option would end 18 months after the release of Windows 7, or with the shipping of Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which entered beta on Monday. Had that happened, those buying machines after that date would only have had the option to run either Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
However, Microsoft backtracked on Monday, acknowledging customer concerns that this would be tricky for them to comply with.
"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," Microsoft said in a blog post.
Instead, Microsoft now says customers buying new Windows 7 PCs will have the option to downgrade those machines to XP throughout the life cycle of Windows 7.
"To support our customers' 'unprecedented move' to migrate their PC environment to Windows 7, we have decided to extend downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional beyond the previously planned end date at Windows 7 SP1," Microsoft said. "This will help maintain consistency for downgrade rights throughout the Windows 7 life cycle...Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7."
Volume-licensing customers with contracts covering Windows have always had the option to choose which version of Windows they run.
With Windows XP still popular inside many businesses and with some consumers, Microsoft has extended a number of planned deadlines for the operating system.
Downgrade rights, though they also existed with Windows XP, came into prominence with Windows Vista, as a broad array of users, from consumers to small and midsize businesses to corporations, all looked to buy new machines that could run Windows XP.
Microsoft had originally planned to give only a six-month window for Windows 7 users to downgrade to XP, but it extended that to 18 months, or the shipping of Service Pack 1, whichever came first.