Microsoft Director of Sales Excellence - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Sales Excellence Blog

Licensing Basics: What are Downgrade Rights?


Downgrade Rights grant the right to use a prior version of Microsoft® software instead of the version you purchased. For instance, the ability to install Office 2003 instead of Office 2007 if you purchase an Office 2007 license that includes downgrade rights. These rights, if granted, would be listed in the End User License Agreement (EULA) you purchase through OEM licensing or Retail Box licensing or in the Product Use Rights document for licenses purchased through Volume licensing programs.

NOTE: Not all licenses have downgrade rights included in them. In fact, almost all OEM and Retail Box licenses do NOT include downgrade rights; whereas, Volume License programs do include them. We have a Downgrade Rights Chart available for download which gives an overview of which licensing options generally do and do not offer downgrade rights. Of course, the definitive way to determine if downgrade rights are included in your license is to read your EULA itself. Generally, it will be listed under the “INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS” section of the EULA.

If you don’t have downgrade rights, you will see something like, “You may install one copy of the software on the licensed device.” How can you tell? Simple, it states you can install one copy of the software, nowhere does it state anything about prior versions. If you do not have downgrade rights included in your license, it means you only have the rights to install and use the specific version you purchased, no others.

If you do have downgrade rights, you will see something like, “You may install one copy of the software, or a prior version, on the licensed device.” Notice it states, “or a prior version.” For instance, in the Microsoft Product Use Rights document which states the licensing rights for Volume License purchases, it states the following in the “Universal License Terms” section:

  1. For any of these products, for any permitted copy or instance, you may create, store and run in place of the version licensed, a copy or instance of a

    • prior version

    • different permitted language version

    • different available platform version (for example, 32 bit or 64 bit)

So as you can see, it clearly states that you do have the rights to install a prior version when you purchase through Volume Licensing programs.

Here are some additional resources regarding Downgrade Rights that you may be interested in:

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

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