Out of Support and Out of Compliance?

New Phrase in Microsoft OEM Terms Delivers Big Impact

Jake Giffin

January 14, 2020 already grabs the attention of system administrators everywhere, since that is the end of Extended Support from Microsoft on Windows 7. And now, a new change in OEM terms has upped the importance of that date. Any machine that came with Windows 10 OEM, regardless of the downgrade media it shipped with, is subject to a new phrase that changes the rules:

“…but only for so long as Microsoft provides support for that earlier version as set forth in (aka.ms/windowslifecycle).”

This phrase comes at the end of the statement about downgrade rights, which permits the use of Windows 8.1 Professional or Windows 7 Professional. The full downgrade language from Microsoft’s updated licensing terms can be seen here:

7. Downgrade Rights. If you acquired a device from a manufacturer or installer with a non-academic Professional version of Windows preinstalled on it, you may use either a Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Professional version, but only for so long as Microsoft provides support for that earlier version as set forth in (aka.ms/windowslifecycle). This agreement applies to your use of the earlier versions. If the earlier version includes different components, any terms for those components in the agreement that comes with the earlier version apply to your use of such components. Neither the manufacturer or installer, nor Microsoft, is obligated to supply earlier versions to you. You must obtain the earlier version separately, for which you may be charged a fee. At any time, you may replace an earlier version with the version you originally acquired.1

What does this mean? On January 15, 2020, any deployment of Windows 7 Professional must be covered in one of the following ways:

  1. Original Windows 7 OEM rights
  2. Downgrade rights through Windows 8/8.1 OEM rights (this phrase did not exist at that point)
  3. Volume licensing rights which allow for the use of the software in perpetuity (entitlement for Windows 7 or newer)
  4. Active per user subscription for the primary user of the device

It’s important to keep in mind that many clients own only a single volume license to allow for the distribution of a standard image, but still leverage OEM rights for the OS licensing coverage. This will not be available after support ends, so each machine would need the applicable coverage.

Best practice indicates that the phase out of Windows 7 should happen prior to end of support, but we understand that sometimes the upgrade or new machine deployment extends beyond the support date. If you need help with your migration from Windows 7, contact one of our Microsoft experts today.

1 Microsoft License Terms

Jake has over 10 years Microsoft experience. Jake holds certifications for volume licensing and software asset management, which have contributed to his presentations at industry conferences. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, working on projects around the house (sometimes), market speculation, and playing volleyball.