updated 08:00 am EDT, Tue April 7, 2009
MS to Keep XP Downgrades
Microsoft late yesterday confirmed it would maintain its Windows XP downgrade program even after Windows 7 launches. Originally planned as an effort to accommodate customers hoping to avoid using Windows Vista for compatibility or poor performance, the program's already extended July target has now been quietly revealed as lasting until June 2010 and will let those buying a Windows 7 system optionally pay extra to install XP as the primary operating system, leaving 7 as an optional install for later. A spokesman claims the extension to 2010 was made over a year ago.
The official also asserts that this "not the first time" customers could trade down past more than one version of Windows, and that businesses using Microsoft's subscription-based Software Assurance program have been able to move back to "any" version of Windows.
While described as unexceptional, the downgrade program was heavily publicized in 2008 by PC makers as general, downgrade-free availability for XP itself came to an end but demand for the more familiar and more compatible software continued. Customers have gone so far as to sue Microsoft for charging to use an older operating system that avoids some perceived issues.