How to build and sell 11 PCs licensed for Windows 8 Pro but installed as 'downgraded' Windows 7 Pro

Posted on 2013-10-25
Last Modified: 2014-06-15
This is my story, failing to properly understand Microsoft's Downgrade policy and what actual procedures must be followed. Will cost me days work or a bunch of money, or both.

I installed Windows 8 Pro on one PC for a customer who wanted eleven Windows 7 Pro PCs. After reading plenty of articles and the license agreement, we thought we could use this one PC to order a downgrade kit (CD and Key) to install all eleven PCs. The original PC was wiped and Windows 7 Pro installed (after receiving the downgrade kit).
We proceeded to install Windows 7 Pro on the Windows 8 'stickered' PCS (we sold them OEM Windows 8 Pro, with their PCs)
The eleventh PC would not activate, and it is my understanding that activation has been blocked now for this downgrade kit.
It appears from MS my only solutions is to install Windows 8 Pro on each PC and then have the end user request each PC be downgraded. Each will have it's own key this way, and will cost $31 each downgrade.
They have been using these PCS already and have their data and installed programs on them, so while installing Windows 8 pro and activating it, and waiting for the key to be mailed, the user will be without their pc.

MS suggested that I sell the customer what they wanted (Windows 7 Pro) in the first place.
 I could do that now and lose $1500 or so getting Windows 7 keys. This solution at least keeps the users going without any reinstalls. I make only 15% profit on hardware, this will kill me.

Here's what I understand should have happened:
Step 1: Customer orders a new Windows 8 Pro PC but wants Windows 7 pro "downgrade".
Step 2: PC is built and Windows 8 Pro is installed on (and license COA sticker applied) to the equipment. Windows 8 Pro is activated on the equipment.
Step 3: End user (or their representative*) calls Microsoft Order Desk 1-800-360-7561 and they will ask for the activation number displayed on the PC. You may think of this as your "proof of purchase" of the Windows 8 Pro system. They will mail a key and DVD for $31.
Step 4: After receiving the downgrade kit, install the Windows 7 Pro and activate it before configuring the PC for the user.

Does anyone have experience 'fixing' this issue?
Question by:TruTekTom

Author Comment

ID: 39602020
I have called MS a second time, to assure my understanding, I was pointed to a KB article which I have already seen, and offered an email address to ask the system builders group. I sent them an email and will add their reply when it comes. Anyone in the meantime with any answers will be appreciated.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 39602582
if you have the Windows 7 media you don't need the media sent to you so need to pay the $31--you can just get the product key. Are you a MS OEM provider? Am I right to say you are using OEM licensing and not Volume licensing? Also this link may help you too Downgrade Rights
LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 250 total points
ID: 39602605
Each will have it's own key this way, and will cost $31 each downgrade.

If the manufacturer of the computers did not supply Windows 7 licensing, then you must license Windows 7 as you noted above.

Are you yourself opposed to using Windows 8?

Windows 8 Pro can be easily made to look and work like Windows 7. I have done this and it works. No need ever to use Metro. The user can work and stay in the desktop 100% of the time. It will take a little effort (very little) on your part to lead the way.

Keep the customer on Windows 8, make it work for them and be happy, and keep your profit.

... Thinkpads_User
LVL 62

Accepted Solution

☠ MASQ ☠ earned 250 total points
ID: 39602657
Your description of the downgrade process from the System Builder's perspective is pretty much correct.  I posted a very abbreviated version of Win 7 to XP here (the process is identical in terms of licencing).  I assume you are using a System Builder Kit and media for Win 8 and you have the mdeia for the System Builder Win 7 SP1 downgrade.

Author Comment

ID: 39607032
To all,
Well I'm going to remove two PCs from my customer and run through the following procedure: 1. Make an Image of the existing windows 7 Pro install on the existing HDD. 2. Install Windows 8 Pro, activate, acquire downgrade key. 3. restore the Image, and with the newly acquired key, (after waiting for it 5-10 days in the mail) use the 'change product key' function in Windows 7 Pro, and activate that key on only this one PC.
Then assuming success, and no other 'shortcuts' found, I will do this for each PC. It's going to take time, but I have more time than money at the moment.

Yes OEM not VL.
You are correct we don't pay $31 unless we get the whole kit (including DVD), I had done the first time, and will do only when I want a disk as well. I'll be ordering the key(s) alone later. Will post any more learned details.

You are correct to encourage Windows 8 use, there are far too many willing to complain before they adopt. However I have customers whose softare vendor does not support the new OS, so we must stick with what they do support.

Love your call sign!  Thanks for the link. You are correct that the procedure for Win7 to XP downgrade is the same process. I'm afraid to admit, when we did downgrades to XP for Windows 7 we were fortunate enough to have a Volume License copy of XP that did not require activation, and in an admittedly sloppy course of inaction, decided that if they have a legal COA sticker for Windows7 we can install XP any way we want to, without fear of software piracy issues. In this, we prevented ourselves from learning the proper way, which we are now forced to learn.

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