What? I need to uninstall Office 2003 and Windows XP as soon as I get my January Action Pack kit?

Since my Do I have Downgrade Rights for my software that comes in Action Pack? post last week, there have been many comments posted and questions asked.  First, thank you for the feedback and keep it coming.  (You might want to also check out the “providing feedback tips” I included in my Microsoft Action Pack – Too much? Too little? post on the 14th)  Second, there is one question that I seem to keep seeing in various online groups, email strings, etc. regarding the post that I did want to provide some clarity on.

The misperception I have seen is people interpreting my post to mean that once you receive your January Action Pack kit, you must uninstall your older versions and install only the latest ones you receive in your kit.  That is NOT what my January 12th post says.  Here is the paragraph from the January 12th post:

So for all of you that received the Windows XP Professional licenses in your Action Pack, you still have the rights to use them throughout the term of your annual subscription.  Remember that Action Pack is a subscription and you will need to renew that subscription annually.  When your annual subscription ends, you no longer have the rights to run the software that you received in the expired kit.  To continue to receive the software benefits included in Action Pack, you will need to renew your subscription for another year.  When you do renew your subscription, you will be renewing for the current software that is included in the Action Pack (which no longer includes the previous Windows Desktop Operating Systems).  At that point, you will no longer have licensing rights to Windows XP through your Action Pack subscription.”

So when you receive your January kit, you will have the Office 2007 and Windows Vista software included in it; however, you can continue to use the Windows XP and Office 2003 versions you received in earlier kits until your annual (12 month) Action Pack subscription is up.  When this is depends on when you last renewed.  Once your annual subscription is up, that is when you would be starting a new annual subscription period under the terms of the Action Pack program at that time.  It would be at that time that you would not have Windows XP and Office 2003 included in your subscription since it would no longer be a part of Action Pack.  So please do not misinterpret my post on January 12th to mean that once you receive your January kit, your Windows XP and Office 2003 licenses must be uninstalled.  Hopefully this helps clarify the point above.

UPDATE: Please see the updated MAPS policy on previous version use rights that was announced in February.

Again, the feedback you have been providing on this topic is not falling on deaf ears and is very helpful for the conversations taking place internally here at Microsoft.  Please keep providing your input and feedback as I know that I do want to hear it.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,


Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights

Comments (19)

  1. Daniel Koster says:

    But isn’t the answer to the question in your title, ‘Yes’, for someone who renews in January?

  2. Jim Maher says:

    Please forward a request to "the powers that be":

    Do NOT force an upgrade!  We need time (at least a year) for LOB apps to be supported.

    While the familiarity and testing value of Action Pack is good, the "run your own business" value of Action Pack makes Action Pack a no-brainer.  That feature alone encourages small professional organizations to truly USE Microsoft products.  The low cost of entry then encourages further investigation of other Microsoft offerings.  That leads to client recommendations.  That leads to SBSC.  That leads to Infrastructure and IW competencies.  That leads to Open-Value licensing recommendations for clients.  That leads to marketing.  That leads to more sales.

    But "run your own business" is a keystone.  Neither our clients nor our own organization is currently able to upgrade to Vista.  

    Forcing it will cause us to go buy the appropriate retail versions of XP and Office 2003 (we’d only need a couple).  Bitterness over this unexpected expense will cause us to re-evaluate Action Pack, maybe declining to renew (since we own other licenses on everything we actually use).  That will lead to lowered familiarity with Microsoft products (since we no longer have ready access to test/familiarity software).  That will lead us to re-evaluate our entire relationship with Microsoft.  If we have to pay to evaluate (or rush through a test period), we’ll more readily consider other suppliers.

    This forcing is probably not a good idea.

  3. SCHRAG says:

    This advice — that the licenses expire on the renewal date — does not square with the following e-mail I received on Tuesday, January 16:


    Hello David,

    Thank you for your email regarding the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription.

    At this time, your licenses for your software will not be terminated when your Microsoft Action Pack is up for renewal. You can continue to use these licenses. If for any reason you would need a replacement due to damage or lost items they cannot be replaced. This is why we encourage you to utilize our upgrades.

    We can forward your suggestions and thoughts to our Program Management Team. Thank you for your concerns regarding this matter.

    Please take a moment to add maps-na@microsoft.com to your address book to ensure delivery to your inbox.

    If we can provide further assistance, please let us know. Thank you for contacting Microsoft.




    (877) 283-1925

    Monday through Friday

    6:30am to 5:30pm Pacific Time

    Message received date: 1/13/07

    Case ID: BIS-3484804


    However, it is consistent with an e-mail I received from MAPS later that same day:


    Hello David,

    Thank you for your email regarding the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription.

    We apologize for the inconvenience and any miscommunication you have experienced.

    The contents of the Action Pack Subscription are subject to change with each Quarter. Within your subscription year, you will be allowed to use the software provided to you until the end of your term. Once the subscription is renewed, you are required to abide by the current contents of the latest update kit. The Licensing Agreement only allows a subscriber to install and operate the software that they have subscribed for in that subscription year. Once that year has been completed, all software (if any upgrades are available) must be upgraded to the latest product version.

    We have forwarded this information and your requests for supporting documents to our Program Management.

    Again, we apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced, and appreciate your patience.

    Please take a moment to add maps-na@microsoft.com to your address book to ensure delivery to your inbox.

    If we can provide further assistance, please let us know. Thank you for contacting Microsoft.




    (877) 283-1925

    Monday through Friday

    6:30am to 5:30pm Pacific Time

    Message received date: 1/16/07

    Case ID: BIS-3484804


    There is obviously some confusion within the MAPS office about what the rules are, and my understanding is that they are actually still under discussion within Microsoft at the moment. It would be nice if we could get a definitive answer by the end of the month, especially if the answer is that the licenses DON’T expire.

  4. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Schrag

    David, based on the way the Action Pack subscription is currently designed, Joshua’s answer is the correct answer, not Michelle’s.  I personally have verified this with the WorldWide Team in charge of Action Pack.


  5. Mike says:

    Office 2007/Vista is only the tip of the iceberg. What are those of us who use the software to run our business do when the next version of SBS comes out, which is only 64Bit. What if our server is not 64Bit? Are we expected to all buy new servers?

  6. PhilG says:

    There is a serious flaw in Microsofts strategy.

    If you can not legally use the XP Pro licenses, how in the ‘ell can a MAPS subscriber install Vista on new hardware, as the Vista in MAPS is ONLY for upgrades.


  7. Allen StClair says:

    Actually, Eric, I am positive that Michelle’s answer is the correct one.

    I am not sure where Joshua pulled his answer from, but it is certainly not based on the Terms and Conditions as they are currently written.

    Have you consulted your legal team about this matter?

    The T&C change quarterly. It doesn’t matter when you renew your annual subscription. The licenses do not expire unless you fail to renew your subscription.

    Pleae don’t get locked into a position, just because it was your first answer. It’s OK to admit that your first answer wasn’t right on the money.

    Be cautious not to turn this issue into a battle of egos. We all understand that Microsoft is a huge company and these types of things happen from time to time.

    As always, thank you for your devoted support to the Small Business Community.


  8. Paul Lang says:

    Hi Eric,

    The tone of your post would seem to suggest that this is in some way good news. It may (just) be regarded as good news if your renewal date is in December and you therefore have 12 months to upgrade, a period of time which I would regard as the absolute minimum needed.

    However, my pack is due for renewal this month and bearing in mind there is no sign yet of my Action Pack arriving, at best I’m only going to have a few days in which to ugrade.

    That is simply not going to happen.

    I’ve always insisted on using fully licensed software even when I was a cash-strapped start up.

    I always insist my clients use fully licensed software – if they won’t I just walk away.

    Now as a reward for my ethical stance Microsoft is planning to turn me in to a software pirate in just 12 days time.

    Thanks a bundle.

    Paul Lang

  9. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Allen St. Clair

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and I can assure you that in no way is my post based on a matter of ego.  My goal is to provide accurate/helpful information for our Partners regardless if it is popular or not or if it may contradict something I have stated in the past.  I’ve made mistakes in the past and I’ll make some again in the future, just like everyone else.  I make no qualms about that.

    The information contained in my original post, and why I stated Joshua’s answer is correct, comes directly from the person who defines the Action Pack Subscription terms, policies, etc. on the WorldWide Team here at Microsoft.  Basically, they are the ones that decide what rights you do and do not get in Action Pack and what gets included in Addendums or not.  So if they state that the Action Pack subscription does not have downgrade rights and your Action Pack subscription is determined by your renewal date terms, it is their decision to make and their policy to define.  As such, I am confident in the accuracy of their answer and thus, my post and comment above.  Also, yes, this policy was run through our LCA (Legal & Corporate Affairs) department since most everything generally is.

    Again, thank you very much for taking the time to post your comment and provide your feedback.  Feedback is always welcomed.  Have a great weekend.

  10. Allen StClair says:

    Eric, Thanks for your response. Evidently, the policy was carefully considered. I hope that the decision maker is working to understand the impact it has on our consulting practices.   I know you have received a lot of feedback on this issue, and I am sure you are making him aware of it. At the very least, it would be nice to know he understands our situation, even if the policy is not changed. Regards, Allen

  11. My honest answer is? No. Not anymore. Not that you aren’t allow to use Action pack for internal business

  12. Just Aint Gonna says:

    Well you can "require" it all you want – How do you plan to enforce it?  We have computers that simply can’t run Vista that are still useful to us.  

    Are we going to spend $$$ upgrading the hardware?  


    Are we going to wipe the hard drives and scrap them?  Nope

    Are we going to quietly ignore all of this and proceed as before?  


    We ain’t gonna and you can’t make us!

  13. Bob S. says:

    After reading the EULA (again), I would interpret it that as long as you continue to renew your annual subscription that your MAPS license keeps going.  You aren’t stopping and starting a new one every year.

    If YOU’RE interpretation is correct then lets say that you first subscribed to the action pack in January 2007 and in your welcome kit received Office 2007.  Then come January 2008 you renew your MAPS, but because it is a renewal you don’t receive a new welcome kit, and because there isn’t a new version of Office, you don’t receive any new Office discs.  If you’re interpretation is correct, Office would no longer be in the MAPS because I was not reissued new discs with new licenses.  Even if I was issued a new welcome kit with new license numbers, are you really trying to say that once a year, even without an upgrade being available, I have to reinstall all my software just to use the new license keys??

  14. Ridiculous says:

    This is all proposterous. Forcing US to upgrade is not going to get our clients to upgrade!!! To me, this seems to be what MS is trying to accomplish.

    We all need time to test the new software in our environments before moving to “production” equipment that we may have. MS is assuming that we all have hardware to run this stuff. You guys are nuts!

    WE NEED AT LEAST A YEAR TO TEST AND CUTOVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ARE YOU LISTENING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????????

    My subscription is renewable in Feb 07. Do you REALLY think I am going to stop using my XP licenses? NO WAY, JOSE. Impossible. My business wont run. Xp is still going to be around for a while.

    BOTTOM LINE?  This is the way it should be: You renew, your licenses are still valid. I dont care if its the year 2020.

  15. Roddy Pratt says:

    Eric said… “The information contained in my original post… comes directly from the person who defines the Action Pack Subscription terms, policies, etc. on the WorldWide Team here at Microsoft.”

    Well, yes. But as mere MAPS customers, we’re not privy to that person’s innermost thoughts. We have to work on what’s publicly stated (and I don’t mean ‘blogged’), and what’s actually written in the MAPS agreement.  Those are the things we use to decide if we want to spent the $$$ on MAPS. Anything else is frankly irrelevant.

    For instance, my MAPS renewal emails (for 2004, 2005 and 2006) all contain this:-

    “Renew NOW through this email and extend your current licenses for another year and receive four more quarterly update kits.”

    So, I am being unreasonable in thinking that by renewing, I’ve extended my current licenses for another year – including XP???

    – Roddy

  16. sid216 says:

    I was going to get the MAPS, until I found that it is all Vista stuff. I don’t want that, I want WinXP32 and 64. With 2003 server. Personally, I will not upgrade to vista. I will move to Linux completely first. Readhat and Novel are looking better every month with the way MS has been doing things.

  17. New Poster Child says:

    Stop the presses. Can’t everyone still have downgradable rights for a few measly months? My Action Pack just got here in December with XP in it — after the release of Vista to volume licensees. Certainly I don’t need to upgrade yet, but the folks that have been Action Packers for three years or so, why should they just because their subscription is getting renewed this quarter? Didn’t they pay $900 for some credit? It’s bad enough that we only got Vista Business Upgrade and not Ultimate*, and it’s bad enough that it isn’t a full version. Makes installs a bit of a pain sometimes.

    We need time to evaluate and play the Vista v. XP game, after all, Vista will be here for its 8 year life cycle, just like Windows 2000 has been. It does take a little time, so just float all of that R&D money a little longer, can’t you, Microsoft? Lots of people [in business] who didn’t see the beta just need some time. There will be plenty of new PC sales, it’s just the upgrade sales I guess Microsoft is worried about here. But why must the ones in the Partner Program get all of the HEAT about licenses expiring? We’re supposed to be PARTNERship freinds, not competing pirates, right?

    * (So much for upgrading a system that comes pre-installed with Vista Home, yuk… that will just laugh at our measly Vista Business Upgrade because it is worthless in that case. This situation will get big press, because of all of the OEM’s that decided to ship Home versions for business computers. Fix: Send us Ultimate for 3Q07. Go to d#ll.com for small business and see what version of Vista seems to come preloaded.)

    So much for trying Vista out on a single computer for a while, leaving XP on other ones for comparison. That would only make sense. Fix: Give us five licenses to XP and Office 2003 that would be grandfathered in until 1/31/2008.

    Another issue is the 64-bit problem. Don’t think we don’t have customers who want to see 64-bit? Ridiculous. Fix: Send 64-bit Server and Vista by 3Q07. In fact, kill two birds with one DVD and send 64-bit Ultimate.

  18. mssmallbiz says:

    NOTE: There has been an update to the MAPS previous use rights that has been posted to our Blog on February 15th.  The link to the post is included above.


  19. As you may know, there has been a time or two where a question about the Microsoft Action Pack has arisen