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MS Denies Profiting Directly From XP Downgrades

A Los Angeles woman last week filed a lawsuit against Microsoft seeking compensatory damages and class action status alleged that the software maker was reaping “tremendous profits” from Windows XP downgrades. But Microsoft denies that it profits from selling downgrades for its OS from 2001.

Microsoft has yet to officially comment on the lawsuit filed by Emma Alvarado, who bought a Lenovo PC and is upset by the $59.25 charge she had to pay to downgrade from Vista to XP, but company spokesman David Bowermaster wrote in an email, “Microsoft does not have a downgrade program. It does offer downgrade rights as part of some Windows Vista licenses, including Windows Vista Business purchased through the OEM channel.

“Microsoft does not charge or receive any additional royalty if a customer exercises those [downgrade] rights. Some customers may choose or need to obtain media or installation services from third parties to install the downgrade version.”

In other words, it seems that it Microsoft is absolving itself from accusations that it profits directly from XP downgrades. Of course, Microsoft still requires users to purchase a Windows Vista license, and one of the top-tier ones at that. Only Vista Business and Vista Ultimate licenses may downgrade to Windows XP Professional, which is a part of a complaint, which read, "Customers have been forced to purchase the most expensive version of [Windows XP] in order to 'downgrade' from the Windows Vista operating system."

Microsoft doesn’t offer downgrade options with the most popularly sold version of Windows Vista -- Home Premium. So, those who want to go with XP are immediately facing a more expensive version of Vista.

"Microsoft mandates that customers who want to downgrade to XP must purchase the license to Vista Business or Vista Ultimate," said Dell spokesman David Frink last December, in a ComputerWorld story. "[That's] typically about a $130 premium, though some retail outlets charge more."

Late last year, Dell tripled its Windows XP downgrade fee to $150, showing a further premium for the downgrade option.

Microsoft now plans to discontinue new licensing of Windows XP on July 31, 2009 (except for netbooks). With many expecting Windows 7 before the end of this year, it goes without saying that Microsoft would want to minimize the length of time it has to support three different generations of operating systems.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • sacre
    I didn't mind Vista x64 up until i got the nvlddmkm.sys error.. now I hate Vista with a passion. I've tried 1 stick of ram, 2, single channel, dual channel, memtest, voltages, timings, i've tried OC'ing the cpu, UC'ing the cpu, Prime95, I've tried 1 card, 2 cards, SLI on, SLI off, OC/UC the GPU core/memory/shader, ATItool artifact tester, i've tried the motherboard voltages, i've tried 6 different drivers with driver cleaner tool inbetween through safemode..
    ....
    ....
    My components are fine, my PSU is fine, Everything is fine. Did tests for them all, but nooo.. nvlddmkm error.. plagues my system.. XP is the only fix but unfortunately I didn't buy XP and I don't feel like pirating the thing, nor do i want to buy it because I want my full 4Gb..

    Rawr.
    Reply
  • smalltime0
    Did you try just going into command line in setup and scanning your pc?sacreI didn't mind Vista x64 up until i got the nvlddmkm.sys error.. now I hate Vista with a passion. I've tried 1 stick of ram, 2, single channel, dual channel, memtest, voltages, timings, i've tried OC'ing the cpu, UC'ing the cpu, Prime95, I've tried 1 card, 2 cards, SLI on, SLI off, OC/UC the GPU core/memory/shader, ATItool artifact tester, i've tried the motherboard voltages, i've tried 6 different drivers with driver cleaner tool inbetween through safemode..........My components are fine, my PSU is fine, Everything is fine. Did tests for them all, but nooo.. nvlddmkm error.. plagues my system.. XP is the only fix but unfortunately I didn't buy XP and I don't feel like pirating the thing, nor do i want to buy it because I want my full 4Gb..Rawr.That error is a nvidia driver issue... well it isnt, but its more common on an nvidia platform.
    The fix is a reinstall of Vista AFAIK
    Reply
  • sacre
    smalltime0Did you try just going into command line in setup and scanning your pc?That error is a nvidia driver issue... well it isnt, but its more common on an nvidia platform.The fix is a reinstall of Vista AFAIK
    Tried it :( I get the error in Windows 7 too. Vista is too sensitive to frequencies and if 1 thing chokes even a little bit the system will reset.
    Reply
  • deltatux
    sacreI didn't mind Vista x64 up until i got the nvlddmkm.sys error.. now I hate Vista with a passion. I've tried 1 stick of ram, 2, single channel, dual channel, memtest, voltages, timings, i've tried OC'ing the cpu, UC'ing the cpu, Prime95, I've tried 1 card, 2 cards, SLI on, SLI off, OC/UC the GPU core/memory/shader, ATItool artifact tester, i've tried the motherboard voltages, i've tried 6 different drivers with driver cleaner tool inbetween through safemode..........My components are fine, my PSU is fine, Everything is fine. Did tests for them all, but nooo.. nvlddmkm error.. plagues my system.. XP is the only fix but unfortunately I didn't buy XP and I don't feel like pirating the thing, nor do i want to buy it because I want my full 4Gb..Rawr.
    Report it to NVIDIA. It has nothing to do with Windows Vista, it's a faulty driver issue. As for people downgrading to WinXP ... either don't buy a new machine or buy one with no operating systems installed and just install a copy of Windows XP with your legit keys and you're good to go. People need to think outside the box. Downgrading is not a right, it's a privilege. I for one, have no problems with Vista and Server 2008.
    Reply
  • tayb
    sacreI didn't mind Vista x64 up until i got the nvlddmkm.sys error.. now I hate Vista with a passion. I've tried 1 stick of ram, 2, single channel, dual channel, memtest, voltages, timings, i've tried OC'ing the cpu, UC'ing the cpu, Prime95, I've tried 1 card, 2 cards, SLI on, SLI off, OC/UC the GPU core/memory/shader, ATItool artifact tester, i've tried the motherboard voltages, i've tried 6 different drivers with driver cleaner tool inbetween through safemode..........My components are fine, my PSU is fine, Everything is fine. Did tests for them all, but nooo.. nvlddmkm error.. plagues my system.. XP is the only fix but unfortunately I didn't buy XP and I don't feel like pirating the thing, nor do i want to buy it because I want my full 4Gb..Rawr.
    That is an Nvidia driver problem. A fix I read is underlocking the GPU memory by 20Mhz.

    Can't really blame Microsoft for Nvidia and their crap drivers.
    Reply
  • ozarkamax
    frivolous crap. if you wanted xp you would have bought xp.
    Reply
  • First off - THe XP downgrade rights are very misunderstood by the consumer.

    In order to understand downgrade rights, you first have to understand what the COA (Certificate of Authenticity) on the bottom or back of the machine grants you. Any machine that runs windows, and purchased via a large manufacturer like Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc requires a COA. The COA is considered the base hardware license for windows that follows that machine till it is sent to the pc graveyard.

    Under typical licensing in the corporate environment, a COA has to be present even if your company has a volume license holder/Enterprise Agreement/software assurance with Microsoft. The ability for a company, school, etc to install windows with their own native install from scratch is considered an "upgrade" by Microsoft. Now, point to make - the volume licensing is cheaper per seat than a retail copy of the same OS... That's why when you buy retail XP/Vista or if you buy one of the system builder or "OEM" copies off of new egg, it has a different cost structure.

    So, along comes Vista, and under standard MS licensing terms, a Volume install of XP would typically not be legit even with the Vista COA. MS amended the rules for that and made an exception for downgrading to xp and still being compliant with MS licensing terms.

    This downgrade offereing was primarily and still is targeted at businesses that still want to run XP. Unfortunately, the consume felt they also fell into the same boat.

    The mistake made by consumers is in assuming the the downgrade rights grant them a free copy of the XP install for that PC. It does not. A consumer who has a full retail copy of XP or system builder copy doesn't even fall into the downgrade rights category anyway as those are considered fully licensed stand alone installs based on their price structure.

    So, if a consumer wants XP instead of vista, they can call the vendor they bought the system from, and that vendor will charge them for the XP recovery media, and shipping.

    MS and the vendors are doing absolutely nothing wrong here. The only thing wrong is how little people understand about that dang COA.
    Reply
  • KITH
    isn't that more of an nvidia problem?
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    I don't mind vista really. It sucked big time when it was new, but it's not so bad now. I do occassionally have to boot 2-4 times before the ati driver stops crashing, but that is just ati fucking up like always, not really a microsoft problem. Once the system runs it'll keep running.
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Downgrade premium / fee is actually called an idiot tax on MS's book.
    Reply