Windows 7 SP1 means end of XP downgrade rights

Microsoft's work on SP1 means 'clock is ticking' on demise of rights, says analyst

By , Computerworld |  Windows, Windows 7, Windows XP

The clock is ticking on the demise of some downgrade rights for Windows 7, an analyst said Thursday.

Last year, Microsoft said that customers could downgrade new machines purchased with Windows 7 Professional to the older Windows XP Professional for a limited period. The deal ends 18 months after the introduction of Windows 7 -- in other words, in late April 2011 -- or when Microsoft launches Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), whichever comes first.

Nearly two months ago, Microsoft acknowledged it's working on Windows 7 SP1 . It has not yet set a release timetable, however.

"So the clock is ticking down on that offer, after which time the only option for non-Software Assurance customers to deploy Windows XP is to use Windows XP Mode," said Al Gillen, an analyst with IDC, referring to Windows 7 Professional's built-in virtualized version of Windows XP.

Corporations that subscribe to Software Assurance (SA) -- MIcrosoft's annuity-like upgrade guarantee program -- or purchase Windows through volume licensing plans have downgrade rights from any edition, including Windows 7, to any previous version going as far back as Windows 95.

Calling SP1 an "important milestone for customers" because of the impending end of downgrade-to-XP rights, Gillen noted that the service pack will have relatively little impact on enterprise plans to deploy the new operating system.

"Historically, classic customer deployment behavior for new Windows client operating systems was to wait for the first service pack to arrive," Gillen said in a research note published yesterday.

That's no longer the case, he said, echoing opinions expressed earlier by other analysts, including Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft and Diane Hagglund of Dimensional Research.

"The Windows patching process ... has changed the rules of the game for many customers," Gillen argued. "The continuous stream of patches, over time, delivers a significant portion of service pack content."

Recent surveys conducted by IDC with IT professionals and end users showed that budget limitations and application compatibility were the biggest concerns about migrating to Windows 7, not the lack of a service pack.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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