Windows 7 downgrade options

Most organisations today purchase additional and replacement Windows PCs on a rolling basis, rather than replacing the entire desktop estate in one go. It just makes sense.

As Microsoft continues to release new iterations of Windows on the desktop, from time to time the version of Windows that is shipped with new PCs will change. To achieve uniformity across a desktop estate, some organisations will wish to purchase PCs with an older version of Windows. With the relative unpopularity of Windows 8 and 8.1 in some companies, many stuck with Windows 7.

Although Microsoft communicated that PCs could no longer be shipped with Windows 7 well in advance, we still see some customers today who are disappointed they can’t buy their new batch of PCs with Windows 7. If you’re in that boat, here are some of the options open to you as a business.

From a licensing perspective, to use a previous version of Windows with hardware you have the following options:

  • Buy a PC with Windows 7*
  • Buy a PC that has Windows 10 and an in-built downgrade option to Windows 7*
  • Buy and PC with Windows 10 and use downgrade rights and volume reimaging rights acquired through a volume licensing scheme to Windows 7 from volume media

*As per the following article from November 2015, the deadline for Microsoft to let OEMs sell Windows 7 was October 31st 2016.

These downgrade rights are for Windows Pro only (not Home or Enterprise).

So, that really leaves the volume reimaging rights and downgrade option. You get volume reimaging rights if you have bought at least one license for the desktop OS through a volume licensing program. You have to install the same language and edition that came with the PC, as per the following article.

Licensing brief: Reimaging rights

This will mean that if the customer does not have a deployment mechanism (e.g. MDT, SCCM, etc) they will need to wipe the disk of each PC, install Windows, obtain and install drivers, etc.

Of course, as the hardware is new the PC vendors may not have chosen to develop drivers for Windows 7.

Some additional testing of Intel Skylake processors has been undertaken for Windows 7 on selected PCs. Microsoft has published a list here:

Skylake systems supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

If you’d like to discuss how ComputerWorld can help you achieve consistency in your desktop environment, upgrade to Windows 10, or discover new ways to manage and deploy your desktop estate, please talk to us.