Note: downgrade rights are available only as long as Microsoft provides support for that earlier version, as outlined in the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.
Steps for an end user to downgrade Windows software
To downgrade eligible Windows software, end users must:
- Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software.
- Accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.
- Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product by using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product.
The downgrade process
Follow these steps to downgrade to an earlier version of Windows software:
- Use genuine Windows media and a corresponding product key for the version of Windows that is eligible for downgrade. The media/key should come from a previously licensed product from the OEM or retail channel.
- End users who are licensed separately through Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) may provide their VL media and key to a system builder to facilitate the downgrade on their own systems.
- Insert the downgrade-eligible version of Windows media and follow the installation instructions.
- Enter the product key.
- If the software was previously activated, it cannot be activated online. In this case, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed. Call the number and explain the circumstances. When it is determined that the end user has an eligible Windows license, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code to activate the software. Please note that Microsoft does not provide a full product key in this scenario.
- Activate the software.
For scenarios involving large-volume downgrades, end users are encouraged to consider VL, which provides the benefits of reimaging rights and volume activation, which can make the process of downgrading much easier.
Authorizing a third party to exercise downgrade rights for an end user
Because downgrade rights apply to end users, they are not designed for third-party facilitation, which has many complications. Also, such facilitation is not suitable for carrying out on a large scale.
Downgrade rights for Windows Server software
The following OEM versions of Windows Server software are eligible for downgrade and down-edition.