Server 2012 Open Licensing and OEM Downgrade Rights

Some questions that have been prompted by the recent move to Server 2012 concern downgrade rights.  Many companies are put in a situation where they need to purchase a new server license(s), but their business applications are not yet fully compatible with Server 2012.  Since Server 2008R2 volume licensing is no longer available for purchase, what can be done?  The answer lies with downgrade rights.

Server 2012 volume licensing comes with rights to downgrade to Server 2008R2.  This is advantageous for a couple of reasons.  One is that it allows you to accommodate any applications that are not ready for Server 2012.  Another is that at some future date you can use the same license to move to 2012 at no additional cost.

Server 2012 OEM licensing also offers downgrade rights, but with one small caveat.  Microsoft reports that:

“The OEM license terms for most OEM versions released with or after the Windows Server 2003 R2 operating system allow for the user to downgrade to an earlier version.”

That’s good news for all of us that have purchased OEM licenses.  It’s been confirmed that both Dell and HP OEM licenses will allow for downgrade rights with 2012.  If you happen to have an OEM license from another manufacturer you’ll have to check their specific OEM License terms to confirm that you have downgrade rights.

Windows 8 Pro OEM and Volume versions will also have downgrade rights to Window 7 Pro.  If you have a copy of Windows 8 OEM(non pro) your downgrade rights would be limited to Windows 7 home.  It’s important to note that if you have legacy applications that will only run on XP, Windows 8 will not come with downgrade rights to XP.  You’ll have to update the app or find a replacement if you want to upgrade your OS.

If you have questions about Microsoft Licensing or downgrade rights contact an expert at i.t.NOW for assistance.  There is also some great information available online here.