Microsoft has shifted its schedule for downgrade rights - a move which gives system administrators more time to migrate to Windows 7.
Downgrade rights allow customers to replace a newer version of a Windows OS with an older edition, but not pay for both copies - just the one from which they are downgrading.
The older edition would be Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista.
A company might take advantage of these downgrade rights when it has bought Windows 7 but suffered application interoperability problems, or its staff are uncomfortable with the new operating system.
In addition, PC makers are being forced to stop offering PCs with XP Professional downgrades which are licenced with Windows 7 Professional after 22 October this year. So companies with new computers but wanting to run an old XP Professional would benefit from downgrade rights here.
When the company is ready to move back to Windows 7, it can do so with no further charge.
Prior to this announcement, the software giant had said that when Windows 7 service pack 1 (SP1) ships next year, firms with Windows 7 systems would not be able to downgrade.
However, Microsoft has now ditched this time limit, giving system administrators the freedom to choose the timing of their Windows 7 upgrade.
In a recent blog post, Microsoft Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc said: " We've decided to extend downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional beyond the planned end date at Windows 7 SP1."
"Enabling such rights throughout the Windows 7 life cycle will make it easier for customers as they plan deployments to Windows 7," he added.
The upshot of the change is that OEM versions of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate will continue to include downgrade rights to similar versions of Windows Vista or Windows XP Professional.
"Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilise end user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7," added LeBlanc.
Microsoft released a beta of Windows 7 SP1 at its partner conference in Washington DC earlier this week.
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