Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to "downgrade" Windows Vista to XP

I had posted about this earlier. This post is a follow-up with more details about how to do it.

The Microsoft downgrade only applies to OEM editions of Vista Business and Vista Ultimate. The essential details from

FAQ: Giving up on Vista? Here's how to downgrade to XP
[...] downgrade rights lets owners of some versions of Vista replace it with Windows XP without having to pay for another license. In effect, the license for Vista is transferred to XP. Think of it as a swap, Vista for XP, not as an extra license. By Microsoft's end-user licensing agreement (EULA), you can't have both the Vista and its downgraded XP installed at the same time on the same or different machines. You have to pick: It's one or the other.

To the vast bulk of users, though, "downgrade" is a synonym for reverting to an older version. In that case, it simply means dumping Vista and returning to XP.

So, what downgrades does Microsoft allow? Owners of the OEM editions of Vista Business and Vista Ultimate can downgrade to Windows XP Professional, including Tablet PC Edition and x64 Edition. Only the OEM editions qualify for a downgrade, so if you purchased a new PC with either Business or Ultimate preinstalled, you're in like Flynn.

Those who aren't: All users of Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium, and anyone who upgraded to Vista using a retail edition of any of the operating system's SKUs. You are, as they say, SOL.

How do I downgrade? Install a copy of Windows XP Professional with the product key that came with the copy, and then when you hit the activation screen -- which is near the end of the installation process -- select the activate by phone option rather than the online method. You'll likely end up talking with a live rep; tell him that you're downgrading from Vista to XP, and give him the Vista product key. The rep is supposed to walk you through the rest.

Where do I get the XP install disc? [...]

If you need further answers, it's definitely worth reading the whole thing. I find the process a bit tiresome, but it sounds doable if you really want it. Me, I think I'll go with Ubuntu Linux, and run XP as a virtual machine with Virtual Box software if I need it.

Related Link:

How to make Windows XP last for the next seven years
Vista, schmista. Follow our tips for keeping your XP setup humming happily for a long, long time

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