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More Windows 7 downgrade confusion


Microsoft did a good thing when it amended its planned Windows 7 downgrade rights to give PC buyers 18 months (instead of the original 6) from the October 22 ship date to downgrade to Windows XP or Vista or stick with Win 7.  So that gives you 18 months from Oct 22, or until Service Pack 1  (SP1) debuts, to decide.

But still, given that many shops wait till SP 1 to evaluate any Microsoft OS, there is still an issue.

For large shops which buy PCs by the boatload to have in stock–there could still be a big headache. Until they can check out SP 1 thoroughly, they will allocate XP or Vista machines to people who need PCs. Then the question is how does their IT staff–or the channel proxy–track which PCs can be downgraded or not. Sounds like a fulfilling job that will have those same staffs reaching for the Extra Strength Excedrin.

And what about OEMs with tons of PCs in the pipeline that have no idea how many will be sold by the magic date–whatever that turns out to be? If Microsoft wants to push the point, it can demand that users show that  they bought machine X before thus-and-so date. This will not be very easy to do.

This is all part of a much larger, and hairier question: Why is software licensing so complicated? Microsoft (and Oracle and whomever) all talk about how they’ve simplified licensing–but the sad fact remains that it’s harder to decipher than the Dead Sea Scrolls. A cynic might think this is because complexity breeds profit to the software vendor. For the user, it simply feeds frustration and angst.

What do you think about Microsoft’s Windows 7 downgrade policy — or Microsoft licensing in general? Send mail to: Barbara Darrow.

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