Windows XP, with its latest Service Pack, SP3, will continue to be available until 2011 via Windows 7 downgrade rights, Microsoft confirmed. Just as it was the case for Windows Vista, the Redmond company will also allow Windows 7 customers to downgrade to Vista, XP, or any other Windows release. While this detail was never contested in any way, the company had previously failed to disclose the deadline at which Windows 7 to XP downgrades would not longer be possible. This situation raised concerns that Microsoft would only allow Windows 7 to be downgraded to Windows XP until April 2010, as a leaked Hewlett-Packard OEM memo revealed.
"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," a Microsoft spokeswoman told Computerworld.
Windows 7 will hit the shelves on October 22, 2009, Microsoft already confirmed it officially, with the RTM planned for the second half of July. Downgrade availability for 18 months since launch means that customers will be able to take advantage of the option to move to and use XP instead of Windows 7 until April 2011. With the vast majority of Windows 7 details already public, the software giant continues in moving its translucent communication strategy to focus on the first service pack for the operating system. The company seems to suggest that a service pack for Windows 7 might not in fact be developed at all, an aberrant statement considering that Windows 7, with Service Pack 1 is already available, and leaked Build 7227 is ample proof in this regard.
Following the launch of Windows Vista, the downgrade term began to be used to signify the process of dumping Vista and going back to XP. This interpretation of the term is incorrect. Downgrade rights are an extension of the EULA for customers, such as those with Software Assurance and Volume Licenses, that allows them to buy Windows 7 and use Windows XP, or any previous release of the OS, until they are ready to make the jump to the latest iteration of the Windows client. Essentially, the same license gives users the rights to use either XP or Window 7. Enterprise customers are especially interested in downgrade rights since large IT infrastructures might not be ready to embrace Windows 7 immediately after it comes out. Companies that will refresh their hardware and will buy Windows 7 along with new computers will have the option to continue using an older release of Windows until all details are in place for the latest version.