Will Windows 8 downgrade rights cure IT's paranoia?

Windows 8 downgrade rights will let IT revert to Windows 7 on new PCs. They may get some buyers off the fence, but others don't see the point.

Downgrade rights are a nice fail-safe for IT shops considering Windows 8, but other factors may still keep some organizations from adopting Microsoft's new desktop OS.

Microsoft will allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to offer customers downgrade rights, which let them purchase new PCs with an older version of Windows without having to buy two copies of the operating system. Windows 8, with its touchscreen capabilities and tiled interface, offers a significantly different user experience than its predecessors, and Microsoft hopes business customers will find peace of mind by being able to downgrade to the more familiar Windows 7.

 "The first thing you need to do is ask if there's any value there," said Ajit Kapoor, principal and managing director of The Kapoor Group, a global consultancy in Orlando, Fla. "What will I be able to do tomorrow that I can't already do with Windows 7?"

Are Windows 8 downgrade rights worth it?

Mike Nelson, infrastructure architect for a global insurance company in the Midwest, said Windows 8 downgrade rights will make the new OS more palatable to IT.

"The paranoia for IT with [a Windows 8] upgrade is application compatibility and hardware requirements and scalability," he said. "When something breaks in those two categories, IT can roll back without worrying about licensing."

Other IT pros and experts, however, will need more incentive to upgrade to Windows 7, whose user base is still growing.

"The driver will be whether or not the hardware that comes with Windows 8 provides a big enough boost in performance," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Inc., a corporate advisory firm in Hayward, Calif.

Even if IT departments find the performance to be worth it, Windows 8 upgrades won't happen overnight. Many IT departments take six months to a year (or sometimes longer) to plan for OS upgrades -- a process that involves retraining users, application testing and other issues such as device driver compatibility testing.

"The look and feel [of Windows 8] is so different that corporations are not going to immediately retrain their people," Kapoor said.

Windows 8 will eventually be a success on the desktop, but that success will come at customers' pace, he said.

"It's not going to happen on Microsoft's timetable," he added.

In addition, IT often waits for the first Windows service pack before upgrading. Microsoft has not said when Windows 8 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will ship, but for comparison, Windows 7 SP1 shipped in February 2011, about 16 months after the initial release.

Microsoft released the Windows 8 code to manufacturing in early August, and sales of Windows 8 systems are slated to start Oct. 26. Hewlett-Packard and Dell Inc. declined to comment, but the largest PC OEMs are expected to ship Windows 8 PCs from day one.

To get Windows 8 downgrade rights, customers have to purchase Windows 8 Pro.

Windows XP: Time to move on

The installed base of Windows 7 finally overtook that of Windows XP in August, according to Web analytics firm Net Applications. Windows 7 now holds 42.8% of the desktop operating systems market, compared to 42.5% for XP, with Windows Vista bringing up the rear at 6.2%.

While both XP's and Vista's shares are declining, Windows 7's is growing.

"I’d suspect organizations, if possible, would want to postpone new PC purchases until they are ready to move the affected users to a newer version of the OS," said Rob Horwitz, research chair at Directions on Microsoft, an analyst firm in Kirkland, Wash.

For customers who hope to continue running Windows XP, experts advise it's time to move on. The OS first shipped in October  2001 and is no longer being updated and no longer available via downgrade, and all support for XP will expire in April 2014.

"It's critical to get off of Windows XP in the next 18 months, and there is not enough time to wait for Windows 8 SP1 and then plan and complete a deployment to Windows 8 in that time," said Paul DeGroot, principal consultant at Pica Communications, a Windows licensing consultancy in Camano Island, Wash.

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Does your company plan to roll out Windows 8 in the next year?
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Doesn’t work with our ERP system
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Just refreshed all desktops to Windows 7, and won’t do another one anytime soon.
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still on XP too many legacy systems still not tested for Win 7
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No resource for training users.
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No. We even have very limited WIn7 installs. We have too many custom apps, etc that take massive efforts to migrate users. IT and a few other departments use Win 7. We see absolutely no need for Win 8….maybe in 3-4 years, but by then, Win 8 will mirror Vista and be not even considered.
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No point in doing so right now.
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xp is still "working fine"
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No, it's full of bugs
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Only just (due to one head office move next year) migrating part of the business to Win7. Can’t see any benefit at all with 8
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In order to sell it, you have to be seen to use it
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The Organization is still trying to acclamatize itself with Windows 7 and with Windows 8 coming up in about a month’s time, it will take the exceptional few IT personnel with vast interest to be more conversant with Windows 8 despite its amazing features.
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No, because its another vista – created by back room boys who dont do real life and sold by sales people who dont understand.
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Having completed XP to Win7 upgrade in the last 6 months there is no incentive in the short term. Costs of retraining staff to a new OS would also be prohibitive.
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too different and uncertain. This very likely is another ME or Vista. BTW Why would we? We have specific apps that we use to make money and this gives no benefits only headaches.
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We are still planning the rollout of Windows 7!
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We’re just beginning Windows 7 rollout
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Not worth the investment in money, time, training, and resources.
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No immediate requirement
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to different
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No we are just now starting to roll out Windows 7 & I don't see windows 8 in this orgnization for 2 or 3 years at best.
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Rolling out win 7 in the next 12 months. It will be many years until anything beyond win 7 is installed
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The interface is asinine for a business environment. Makes no sense, and it is difficult to get to a lot of the normal functions found in XP/Windows 7. This is another ME/Vista debacle.
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Half of our users are still on XP
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No. It's not a desktop OS; it's some weird frankenstein creation that actually makes work harder and less efficient. Why would we move to something like that? No, we're going to skip Vista 2012.
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It will be too soon maybe after that year. And probably start out with the Surface Pro for laptop replacement. Even longer for the coventional desktop user.
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horrible product for desktops
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With how much they dumbed down the OS it will take me forever to train my staff on how to use this product. What were they thinking?? Making the start button hidden with no visible location alone is going to make it a nightmare to work with. Plus after doing some additional reading on the interface they have removed a bunch of tools I have used to track down bugs and system failures.

This does not help me in anyway but rather makes my job even more difficult.
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Application compatibility as well as no requirement for new Win8 features.
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still upgrading to Windows 7 and can't be training same people twice in one year.
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Just now rolling out Windows 7. I tried out the Windows 8 demo... not impressed. Too many things missing and/or difficult to do. And I don't have time to train all my users on a new OS.
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Still on XP with Move to Win 7 withing next 12 months
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We're still using XP on some of our machines, as it still does what we want. New machines already come with 7, and that seems to be working well. So why change?
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too soon
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What's the advantage? In fact, the drastic change and differences makes the learning curve longer. Hold off as long as possible!
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its not worth the headaches, it took forever to get certain programs to work whether it was finding upgrades or new versions or having to run virtual XP machines for those programs. having a touch screen will make thing even more of a pain for all of the autocad programs that we use. also, there is nothing wrong with Windows7
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still watching. Cautious.Many compatibility issues to test
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Win8 = Vista 2012

Who ever thought this would be good for business use? We are even balking at Server 2012. Remove tools? Make users dig for common tasks? So what, it runs on tablets. I don't even see the need there. iOS and Android are rock solid - why change? So instead of taking what the user base is familiar with, fixing it and cleaning it up, we have another Ballmer debacle.
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Windows 7 is working just fine. Simple software installs knock out MetroSectual's house of cards causing it to become useless. It's Vista all over again, too soon, too untested, and most of the failure is drivers that aren't quite ready to support it. Windows 9 will either be using MetroSectual or whatever it comes to be AKA. Or Business will demand it be dumped for a more usable, less Zunelike interface.
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Need to test my applications before I can even start to upgrade!
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No compelling reason to adopt. Also, not compatible with older hardware still widely in use.
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They finally come out with something that works well (Win7) and replace it with another half-baked product. XP > Vista all over again
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We are a non-profit and, as such, have limited resources to move to a Windows 8 compatible program. The other consideration is training, and IT is only a 2 person operation.
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the Metro UI is garbage & WON"T work in my environment. In addition, since Microsoft isn't going to give us a choice on the AERO Start Menu over the Metro Start, Win8 or Server 2012 will NEVER be installed at my business. In addition, this is my opportunity to start looking at Apple fro the next refresh. This time Microsoft has pushed this tech & business owner tooo far. They arent listening so since they refuse to listen, then it's time to look away from Microsoft. What's even more disturbing is how Microsoft is censoring all negative criticism of in8 & Server 2012 with the Metro UI - BAD BAD BAD Microsoft - you are HITLER in the modern world.
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No touch screen. What's the point?
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No way on earth will 8 ever be seen on a desktop here. A travesty of an interface that wouldn't be tolerated by the power users who work here. 7 has been a hard enough hill to climb with some!
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MS can shove the Metro interface up the dark place since they offer NO choice for AERO, I wont put win8 or server 2012 on my network - PERIOD
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"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Vista SP2 works fine for us with all of our computers. We have all of them in the 90% or more 'reliability monitor' and that's way better than we had before.
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