Downgrade Rights

Understanding Downgrade Rights

Last updated: January 23, 2014
Audience: Faculty and staff purchasing computers and/or software for work

UNH faculty and staff may have questions about Microsoft Windows 8. While Windows 8 makes some major improvements over its predecessor, it brings up new, unexplored support issues and, of course, a new user interface. Fortunately, in many situations, you can still use Windows 7 through downgrade rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: For the purposes of downgrading, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are treated as the same product.

Downgrade/Upgrade Questions

Q: What are downgrade rights?

A: Downgrade rights are an end-user right, documented in the Software License Terms that customers accept upon first running certain Windows software. Using downgrade rights bears no additional costs if you install the operating system on your own. Computer Repair Services can install the operating system you want for a fee.

Windows 8 can be downgraded to Windows 7 in many instances

Note that end user downgrade rights will be available through the sales life cycle of Windows and Windows Server operating systems, which is up to two years after the launch date of a new version.

Get more information about Windows life cycle and Windows product availability policies.


Q: What versions carry downgrade rights?

A: There are several factors that Microsoft considers when granting downgrade rights. This table provides an overview:


Windows 8 Version Downgrade Option Recommended Usage
Windows 8 Professional
Volume License through UNH Computer Store
Any previous version of Windows Business/Professional Students, faculty and staff for home use.
Windows 8 Professional
Factory-installed or retail box
Windows 7 Professional
Windows Vista Professional
Students, faculty and staff for home use.
Windows 8 Enterprise* Any previous version of Windows Business/Professional or Enterprise Faculty and staff for UNH-institutional use
Windows 8 RT No downgrade options Specifically designed for ARM-based devices only such as tablets and some netbooks. Traditional applications will not run on this version.
Windows 8 No downgrade options Student and non-UNH institutional use.


If you bought a Windows 8 Professional volume license through the UNH Computer Store, it includes downgrade rights to any previous version of Windows. If you're not sure if you bought a volume license or a retail copy of Windows 8, please feel free to contact the UNH Computer Store at (603) 862-1328.

* Windows 8 Enterprise is an option for those who purchase a Windows 8 Professional License with Software Assurance. Software Assurance is a subscription benefit that expires; in order to remain within compliance upon expiration, users must renew Software Assurance OR downgrade to Windows Business/Professional. Please call (603) 862-1328 and request to speak to a full-time member of the sales team for more information.


Q: How do I downgrade Microsoft Windows or Windows Server software?

A: To downgrade Microsoft Windows or Windows Server software, you must:

  • Purchase a PC pre-installed with Windows or Windows Server software OR purchase a Windows or Windows Server volume license.
  • Accept the End User Software License Terms.
  • Perform the downgrade on your own or authorize a third-party such as UNH Computer Repair Services or departmental IT staff to perform it on your behalf.



Q: I downgraded, but now I'm ready for Windows 8. What do I do?

A: First, back up your data, just in case. Next, our recommendation is to bring your proof of license (your receipt) and your computer to Computer Repair Services and request that they install the desired operating system, which they can do for a fee. For more information, contact the UNH IT Service Desk.


Application Compatibility


Q: I use Enterprise Applications (BANNER, Workflow, FAMIS, Kronos, AppMan, and Xtender). Is Windows 8 compatible with these applications?

A: At this time, UNH Enterprise Applications vendors do not yet support Windows 8. The most updated information can be found at the USNH Enterprise Gateway.



Q: Will Blackboard work on Windows 8?

A: From the Blackboard vendor: "At this time Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 are not supported technologies for Blackboard 9.1 SP 9. We have not done any testing on these systems. From what other clients have reported, Internet Explorer 10 causes issues in Blackboard. Please continue using the supported technologies that are stated within the release notes."


Purchasing Questions


Q: I want to buy a Microsoft operating system volume license and install Windows 7, but you only offer Windows 8 volume licenses. Can I buy the Windows 8 license and downgrade to Windows 7?

A: Yes, all Microsoft department-only software licenses carry downgrade rights to the prior version as long as it is the same edition (for example, Windows 8 Professional to Windows 7 Professional; likewise Enterprise to Enterprise). There is no additional cost outside of the original price of the license unless you would like Computer Repair Services to perform the installation.



Q: I want to buy a new computer with Windows 7. What are my options?

A: Certain Dell models (most Latitude & Optiplex, some others) can be shipped from Dell with a Windows 8 Professional license with Windows 7 Professional installed. In these cases, we create a no-cost option on our price list that you can choose. You can also ask a sales associate.

Alternatively, UNH Computer Repair Services can downgrade systems from Windows 8 to Windows 7 as part of the UNH Computer Prep service (formally known as PDNC). If you are already getting UNH Computer Prep, simply request the downgrade to Windows 7 and your sales person will make a note for the software technician. Please note that only select models of Dell computers can be downgraded. As a general rule, if Dell sold a computer with Windows 7 in the past, it is usually safe to install Windows 7 on it now.



Q: If I purchase a new Dell, what operating system be installed on it?

A: The price list available in the store and on our website will always clearly indicate which operating system the computer ships with. This information is also usually on your receipt. If you request a different operating system as part of UNH Computer Prep that will always be noted on the receipt in the lower left of the page.



Q: Do I need to do anything specific when getting a new computer to make sure it comes with Windows 8 (or Windows 7)?

A: While researching your purchase at the store, our staff will ask questions such as "What do you plan on using the computer for?" and other questions that may lead to this discussion. When in doubt, you can always ask which operating system is right for you; typically, downgrade options are available either as an option on our price list if it is available or through UNH Computer Prep on compatible models.



Q: I want to buy a computer for personal use, without intention to install any work-related applications at all. Should I skip Windows 8?

A: Much of the concern around Windows 8 right now is geared around its integration into an enterprise environment and driver compatibility on older computer models. Outside of the new user interface, Windows 8 is very similar to Windows 7 and makes many improvements in performance and security and introduces many new features. It does come with a learning curve, however, so it is ultimately a matter of preference.



This information is sourced from this Microsoft website and this official document from Microsoft with contributions from UNH IT staff.