XP downgrade program may continue to hurt Windows 7

Most people know that come the release of Vista, most businesses chose to hang onto to Windows XP due to lacking reviews of the new OS, and the fact that XP did everything they wanted. Of course, many plan to make the move to the upcoming Windows 7, bypassing Vista entirely, but according to InfoWorld, this could be harder than expected.

An analyst for Gartner, named Michael Silver, said that, "[Microsoft's upgrade policy is] a disaster waiting to happen." The current plans for enterprise upgrading is as follows: businesses that purchase computers before April 23, 2010 that come with Windows 7 pre-installed can choose to downgrade them to Windows XP; at a later date, they can upgrade them to Windows 7, when users are ready to be switched over. However... if a business purchases a PC after April 23, then they can only choose to downgrade to Vista; XP is out of the question. Microsoft's PR company said to InfoWorld, ""It looks like Microsoft hasn't made any announcements around timing for downgrade rights from Windows 7 to Windows XP yet," but apparently they have actually already discussed it with Silver more than once. Additionally, a slide from Microsoft shows their plans, included below (courtesy of InfoWorld):

Two firms, Forrester Research, and Gartner, both recommend that companies wait about a year to a year and a half before upgrading to Windows 7, to ensure maximum compatibility with all drivers and applications, as well as with hardware, but this policy from Microsoft could affect that. If a company chose not to install Vista, it means they have to be quick on the upgrading/downgrading process. However, there is a backup solution; a company can be enrolled in Microsoft's Software Assurance program, which means that (for a fee of about $90 per machine, per year) they can have any operating system they like installed. So, businesses can either buy excess machines now, and have extra XP downgrade licenses in stock, or purchase after the cut-off date and have to force users to use Vista or 7. Regardless of the solution, it will be difficult for IT systems to track which computers have downgrade rights and which don't, Silver notes.

"Well, Microsoft have already done something about this," you say. "What about XP Mode?" Good question. Well, Silver explains that by making businesses use XP Mode with a Windows 7 installation, it means they will essentially have to deploy twice as many operating systems. To add to this, many computers apparently can't run the Virtual PC technology that is required, so it would cause a few problems.

Last of all, Microsoft has yet to announce details about their Technology Guarantee program, which is designed to allow users to upgrade free to a new operating system if they buy a machine after a certain date. Businesses need this information so they can begin planning ahead for the switch, aiming at keeping costs to a minimum. Once this has been announced, then things should become a bit easier.

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With Windows 7 Business and Ultimate editions having the option of XP Mode I fail to see the need for XP downgrade rights. Just my opinion.

Sadelwo said,
With Windows 7 Business and Ultimate editions having the option of XP Mode I fail to see the need for XP downgrade rights. Just my opinion.


You don't understand how Business works, by the way applications under virtualized XP run like crap especially since it is powered by MC Virtual PC.

jjrambo said,
You don't understand how Business works, by the way applications under virtualized XP run like crap especially since it is powered by MC Virtual PC.


As I asked before, jj; - who has you hostage?

I've *been* where you are now (and like you, virtualization was not an option), and thus we found out the hard way (as an enterprise) the hidden (and high) costs on relying on lick-and-a-promise third-party applications written under-the-gun. Situations like yours (undisclosed and often undisclosable) are, most often, the real reason smart and sensible hardware and operating-system upgrades within ANY enterprise get delayed or even don't happen at all. (While it's most noticeable with Windows, Windows is FAR from alone; I know of three credit unions that are trapped two versions back with Solaris because of a vertical application having issues with not a newer version of Solaris, but a *driver* for that newer version of Solaris. This is not even Solaris for x86, but Solaris for SPARC.)

So that's why I asked.

Sadelwo said,
With Windows 7 Business and Ultimate editions having the option of XP Mode I fail to see the need for XP downgrade rights. Just my opinion.

It's Professional in 7, not Business.

If it's supported with patches and updates (maintaince, not new features) and it does what you want it to, why move on? Microsoft will be releasing update till 2014.

I still have a lot of games that don't play well, or have odd issues if running within Vista.

jstillion said,
If it's supported with patches and updates (maintaince, not new features) and it does what you want it to, why move on? Microsoft will be releasing update till 2014.

I still have a lot of games that don't play well, or have odd issues if running within Vista.



Names, please. Give me names.

The only games I know of that have issues with Windows 7 *at all* have one of two issues:

1. PunkBuster (which, until recently, had 64-bit-specific issues with Windows 7-based clients).

2. Any game that uses a 16-bit installer will not install in any 64-bit version of Windows (therefore, not a 7-specific issue).

Any game that is plagued with *either* issue, I refuse to hold on to, and will not play, nor will I recommend that anyone else do so. Here's my running known hotlist:

Unreal Tournament (every single version)
Command and Conquer Generals (and forward)
Doom 3/Quake III Arena (and forward)
Microosft Rise of Nations (and forward)
Madden NFL 2004 (and forward), NHL 2003 (and forward), and PGA Tour 2005 (and forward)
Sim City 4 (and forward)
Stardock Galactic Civilizations II (and forward)
The entire catalogue from Gas Powered Games
All games distributed via Steam

These *all* are known to work with Windows 7 64-bit (specifically, build 7232), as I've personally run them. Note that Unreal Tournament (the original one) is on the list. Note that Steam is on the list. And I'm talking about the *most difficult* version of Windows 7 (the 64-bit version), and on minimum-class hardware (remember, I was running on just a single gigabyte of RAM until this past Monday). Give me that list of problem games.

jjrambo said,
Windows 7 will just win home users. Business wise Windows 7 and Vista does not offer anything worth money and time over XP. At least not yet. for example a lot of companies have Office 2007 running on XP machines.
Why they would need Windows 7 to run Office 2007?
IE8 runs on XP, and again why they need Windows 7/Vista to run IE8?
WMP, DX, Live Essentials are irellevant for Business cause they don't use it, no gaming. A lot of people here don't understand that nobody cares about OS but about applications and essentially games running under OS. Business don't care if taskbar on Windows is blue or black or icon is like this or that of if new Windows 7 Taskbar has or does not have thumbnail previews. For Businesses it's absolutely useless. All they care is this, can i run our production app, is it performing ok? Let's see. Benchmark says XP = Windows Vista/7. No stability issues under XP, well we are not spending money on something we don't need.

END OF STORY.


jjrambo, what legacy application holds you hostage?

You are counseling that businesses *do nothing*, and the only reason why such counseling would make sense is if there is a critical vertical/proprietary application that moving from XP would break.

The fact that your business/enterprise is *still* on XP is clear enough that there is at least one legacy application holding you up.

That is VERY much why the Russian Federation is ticked with Microsoft over the ending of unpaid support for Windows XP - they have quite a few legacy applications *somewhere* based on Windows XP-powered underpinnings that won't run on anything else. As opposed to whacking the developer (or the developer's company), they are whacking Microsoft; mainly because they can. (Not because it's the right, or even honorable, thing to do.)

Nothing holds it. The fact that XP runs everything is a reason not to do upgrade just for sake of upgrade, cause no performance will be gained out of it. I am talking about Business in general, not my company.

jjrambo said,
Nothing holds it. The fact that XP runs everything is a reason not to do upgrade just for sake of upgrade, cause no performance will be gained out of it. I am talking about Business in general, not my company.


jj, I'm not asking you to spend ANY money upgrading hardware.

If that hardware runs XP, it can run Windows 7. (At worst, we're talking hard drive upgrades, which are doubtless necessary for OTHER reasons.)

So what hardware upgrades did I bring up?

Well I imagine at some point IT has to do their job. It's their responsibility to figure out what, when & where they want operations to go. Life's messy -- big deal... corporates not still having sales drive 50's DeSotos for company cars, and I bet the corporate jet isn't a Sopwith Camel biplane. ;-)

It's no mystery or surprise that someday MS would stop selling XP. If you or your company sells something, chances are it sells new products or versions regularly. It's no surprise nor mystery why every PC was not upgraded to Vista, and those who didn't upgrade were well aware of the savings, in not just $, but time & effort. So now it's time to work -- big deal -- you can blame MS for a lot of things but not IT's lack of planning or laziness.

To cover all the posts...

XP is NOT a valid answer in 99.9% of the circumstances, even the ones given above. Even in the organizations where you are funded by donations, you still have IT people. It is time for YOU to PUSH for your IT people to either do their jobs or find IT people that can and will do them. PERIOD.

The era of the 'keep the old horse cause the IT guy knows how to ride him' is as over as it is as insane.

I have watched too many companies pushed around (often by their own cheap hiring or ignorance) by bad IT people. If the golden rule was to keep buying and using old CRAP because that is all the IT people understand or it might 'break' something, we would all still be using DOS with Novell 2.x servers.

It is the JOB of your IT people to fix the 'problems' or incompatibilities they find. (Often problems they have created by adhocing their ignorant solutions instead of doing things right in the first place.) If your IT people cannot get something to work, find people that will.

I can't believe the people that are even pro moving to Win7 and in the same paragraph talking about using IE6 for their Intranet solutions. Holy freaking cow. IE6? Really? Maybe it is time you or your IT people took ten minutes to fix the rendering problems on the Intranet for IE7/IE8. This is stuff that should be part of regular maintenance and updates.

There are a few 3rd party applications that do fail outside of XP used or created for business segments. So you virtualize and then SCREAM at the vendors - that you are probably paying maintenance fees to anyway. Almost 3 years after a major OS update release and they haven't 'fixed' their problems is no longer an excuse. Additionally, good IT people could use their 'tools' to find why the software fails and locally fix it. Have people ever ran Process Monitor here, or 20 other admin tools that will tell you why the software is failing and how and with a few searches could implement quick work arounds. (Most of the time it is a security issue - meaning the software you are using is crap for security anyway - and you can easily add security exceptions or force user/registry virtualization for the software.) And this is IT level work, not even needing a programmer.

As for business and IT people advising, if a solution or software product you are looking to purchase ONLY supports XP, call them idiots and find another solution. But be sure to tell them why they are not getting your business.

I work with tiny companies to several thousand system deployment corporations. If XP after one year of Vista's release was mandated by an incompatible piece of software or some crap Intranet design needing IE6 I would start rolling heads, and fire anyone that was stupid enough to belive this was STILL acceptable.

If the company is strapped for money and still running 200mhz Pentiums with 64mb of RAM, then XP can stay.

Outside of that, 1GB of RAM is chicken feed, and that is where Vista and XP's performance meet - even on a 1999 700mhz PIII. If your computer was made in the last 10 years, there is NO credible reason to be using XP or anything older. (This does not mean you HAVE to upgrade, but if you can and choose NOT too for some myth or OS religious reason you are insane.)

As for other 'little' excuses like 'image size' and some of the other IT crap I have read in these posts are just that, CRAP and bad IT at its finest.

To run Vista or Windows 7 on 1gb machine? You're insane if you think that's the option.. To answer your question. Upgrade for like 300-400 PCs costs money, possibly new hardware, etc. For company is not worth it and it can't be justified cause XP already runs ie8, office 2007, visual studio 2008, citrix, lotus, websphere etc. Performance is good and no stability issues. Why would they go with Windows 7, give them one reason...maybe AERO? lol

jjrambo said,
To run Vista or Windows 7 on 1gb machine? You're insane if you think that's the option.. To answer your question. Upgrade for like 300-400 PCs costs money, possibly new hardware, etc. For company is not worth it and it can't be justified cause XP already runs ie8, office 2007, visual studio 2008, citrix, lotus, websphere etc. Performance is good and no stability issues. Why would they go with Windows 7, give them one reason...maybe AERO? lol

Windows 7 has been tested and confirmed to run fine on 512 MB of ram and a 1 Ghz Atom processor, so that argument is null and void.

I've been using Vista for the past few years, with SP1 it is just as fast and stable as XP, in fact even more so than XP. From testing the RC of Windows 7 I'd have to say it is much better than Vista performance wise, it's like running a souped up version of XP.

Windows 7 has even got a lot of positive feedback and press, from those who were hesitant to move to Vista. A lot of the complaints with Vista are addressed in Windows 7, and it will only get better before the it is available for retail.

Companies should only need to support software up to a year after a new version is released. All Microsoft is doing is wasting valuable time and resources by supporting old products to make a select minority of people happy when they should be focusing and improving upon their latest software.

Their software could be a lot better by not wasting time and resources supporting old or outdated products for years down the road and focusing on only the latest versions. Companies have had more than enough time to prepare, Vista has been out for over three years now.

It reminds me quite of the DTV fiasco, unless people are forced to switch they'll never be prepared no matter how long the inevitable is delayed. This is why I was glad when it was announced there would be no further delays.

You may not see the need to upgrade because rust ol' XP still does everything you need. I myself would see a need to upgrade if I were head of an IT sector for a company, the improvements in security and new features the new operating systems bring are well worth an upgrade.

Since I switched from XP to Vista, the new features have allowed me to be more productive and get things done faster. The search in Vista and Windows 7 is namely one of the most productive features. Have you ever tried searching for a file located in a directory that contains hundreds of files? It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, with the search feature in Vista all I do is navigate to the directory, type a few letters of the file I am looking for in the search pane and I instantly find the file I am looking for.

Is it not worth it to companies to be more productive and get work done faster, I would presume that this would be very important to any company or business?

Xtreme2damax said,
Windows 7 has been tested and confirmed to run fine on 512 MB of ram and a 1 Ghz Atom processor, so that argument is null and void.

Yes, it sure CAN "run fine" on such limited hardware. I dont' see why I should not trust you or the tests you are referring to, but...
The real question is, whether it WILL do so on MY OWN particular set of hardware, you know. And my experience shows, that it MAY or it MAY NOT. So, this argument above may as well be next to "null or void" in certain situations.

However, to tell the truth, I'm afraid they all WILL have to upgrade to Windows 7 sooner or later. This was decided at the very moment they decided to depend on MS Windows as their OS of choice. And that decision was made at the time, when MS Windows really had advantages over the contemporary Linux distros; such time is now in the past.

Today the only advantage MS has is that many have chosen MS Windows in the past. On the other hand, distributions like OpenSuSE/SLED or Ubuntu or Debian offer everything one may need, which is confirmed by the fact, that many governmental structures have switched to Linux already. For them upgrade will not cost money to pay for the OS. Add to this a lot of free software for every average operation you might need to do.
And if someone needs MS Office or AutoCAD, he can run Windows in VMware -- the most harmless solution, where all the "vulnerabilities" of MS Widnows are limited to the virtual environment.

jjrambo said,
To run Vista or Windows 7 on 1gb machine? You're insane if you think that's the option.. To answer your question. Upgrade for like 300-400 PCs costs money, possibly new hardware, etc. For company is not worth it and it can't be justified cause XP already runs ie8, office 2007, visual studio 2008, citrix, lotus, websphere etc. Performance is good and no stability issues. Why would they go with Windows 7, give them one reason...maybe AERO? lol


jj, until Monday of last week, I ran Windows 7 (the 64-bit version) on a 1 GB machine. And gamed on it. I also ran Microsoft Office on it. (Both 2007 and the leaked Tech Preview of 2010, in 64-bit, no less). I lost exactly ZERO stability compared to Vista or XP; in fact, I gained (not lost) stability over both (in 32-bit form) and even over 32-bit Windows 7, especially when running multiple applications at once.

So the one gigabyte Windows 7 PC is certainly possible.

That is in fact one MAJOR reason to upgrade from XP - stability, stability, stability.

And I'm talking about spending NOTHING on new hardware.

However, if you have ANY PCs that use DDR2 DIMMs, you aren't upgrading the RAM *why*? DDR2 is, literally, the cheapest type of PC memory to upgrade (especially for desktops; 2 GB of generic PC-6400 is about $35USD retail average, and it can be found for less, even retail). Even DDR (for those older P4 destops) is about $50/GB, and that's the *most expensive* (DDR3, the newest type, roughly splits the difference). However, I was not even talking about upgrading ANY new hardware, but just a straight OS change.

Microsoft should seriously cut off all downgrade rights and support for Windows XP once Windows 7 becomes available. Keeping an operating system alive for eight years is downright ridiculous, given that Windows 7 addressed most complaints associated with Vista and it also has XP Mode (for the Pro and Ultimate editions). In fact, the only thing Microsoft needs to address now is to get rid of some of this legacy crap and save gigabytes of disc space as Apple's upcoming Snow Leopard accomplished.

MulletRobZ said,
Microsoft should seriously cut off all downgrade rights and support for Windows XP once Windows 7 becomes available. Keeping an operating system alive for eight years is downright ridiculous, given that Windows 7 addressed most complaints associated with Vista and it also has XP Mode (for the Pro and Ultimate editions).

Hell no! XP has been stress tested for 8 years, stable as hell. Vista sucks, I am worried that the new UAC on W7 has new issues, overall I am wary of W7 too now.

We have 300 work companies, all XP sp2 and IE 6. Miraculously the idea to downgrade to Vista was scrapped. Our software is temperamental enough already, seriously do not use Vista to f-k things up even more

Alley Cat said,
Hell no! XP has been stress tested for 8 years, stable as hell. Vista sucks, I am worried that the new UAC on W7 has new issues, overall I am wary of W7 too now.

We have 300 work companies, all XP sp2 and IE 6. Miraculously the idea to downgrade to Vista was scrapped. Our software is temperamental enough already, seriously do not use Vista to f-k things up even more

Uh, Vista is an UPGRADE, genius, not a downgrade. Just because you share the sentiment of a very vocal (and most times idiotic) minority on Neowin doesn't make you right.

if it's cost, go with win7. it's cheaper than XP...according to the latest reports on cost of win7 here on neowin.
win7 loads on all those xp machines that businesses use, most of them are hp's ,dells or some other branded PC and they have to make drivers for these machines just to get xp to run on them(why do both xp and 7?). so your IT dept has to get off their lazy asses and get to work!

Well there is no issue... Windows 7 will not get the negative press that Vista did so XP downgrades will be few and far between. The ONLY reason people downgraded to XP was because of what they had 'heard' about Vista, not from actually using it themselves. Vista was a perfectly good OS.

Windows 7 is the future, XP is long dead!

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