In an unusual move from Microsoft, the software giant announced that it will allow downgrade rights from Windows 7 to Windows XP Professional right up until 2020.
Microsoft originally stated that users could downgrade to Windows XP 18 months after the debut of Windows 7, or until Windows 7 SP1, which is just around the corner. However, the company changed its mind once again, offering customers the chance to downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows XP Professional until 2020, the entire lifecycle of Windows 7.
Any computer pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions will allow the downgrade to similar versions of Vista and XP, until Windows 7 lifecycle is discontinued in 2020. The decision to extend the downgrade rights comes the day before Windows XP SP2 support is officially ended.
Retailers are still able to sell boxed versions of Windows Vista up until October 22, 2010, one full year after the release of Windows 7, and PCs preinstalled with Vista up until October 22, 2011.
Just to clarify the above information, Windows XP downgrade rights will only be available throughout the Windows 7 lifecycle. Windows 7 will continue to sell in retails stores one fully year after the next release of Windows, and upto two full years preinstalled on PCs. For instance, if Windows 8 releases on January 1, 2012, Windows 7 downgrade rights to XP will officially retire on January 1, 2014.