Downgrading from Windows 8 and Software Licensing

Unhappy with Windows 8? Hoping to downgrade to Windows 7? There are a few things you should know before trying to do this.

Know your downgrade rights – for volume licensing programs, therein lies the most flexibility. You should be able to downgrade to any previous version of the product. OEM licenses are a bit more complex. Professional versions have rights to downgrade to the two previous versions only.

You also have to be aware of your edition downgrade rights, which are only made available on a few Microsoft products (Windows Server and SQL server being among the few).

Why does this matter if you are just trying to use a different version or edition? It’s important because it’s putting your compliance in jeopardy if you don’t downgrade within the confines of your SLA. If you are using the wrong edition, or even a mismatch of CALs. Here is an example:

You buy a copy of Windows Server 2012 and downgrade it to Windows Server 2008, and you have Windows 2008 CALs = all good. Someone in the IT department upgrading a Windows Server 2008 installation back to Windows Server 2012 (which you have a license to do)  = now all of your clients that can access that server are now out of compliance. That’s because you only have Windows Server 2008 CALs, not Server 2012 CALs.

Before downgrading any products or versions of products – check and double check your downgrade rights, and then, be sure to communicate which versions and editions can be used within the company. Licensing compliance is tricky – especially with complexities set by vendors such as Microsoft!

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