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Windows Server 2008 R2 Downgrade Licensing Rights Print
October 2009

Windows Server Downgrade

  • Download PDF version: downgrade-rights.pdf
  • Also available is the "Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Licensing Guide: Your Ultimate Quick Reference Resource for Licensing and Pricing" document published Dec 2007 for Windows Server 2008: Win Server Lic Book customer hi-res.pdf.

    Windows Server Licenses grant customers the right to run a down level or down-edition version of Windows Server. In some cases customers do not have access to the down level media and keys. To aide these customers we have developed the Windows Server Fulfillment site. Please see below for more information regarding ordering a down-edition or downgrade kit via the Windows Server Fulfillment site.

General Downgrade Options and Rights

Downgrade rights are granted in the license terms for most editions of Windows Server (Web, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter). Downgrade rights allow customers to run an instance of any previous version or lower edition of Windows Server (also referred to as a downgrade or downgrade instance) in place of the instance of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 that they are licensed to use. When exercising downgrade rights, the use rights of the Windows Server version and edition that the customer has licensed apply to the down level or down-edition product that the customer is running. If the earlier version includes different components, any license terms for those components in the license terms that come with the earlier version apply to the customer’s use of them. At any time, a customer may replace an earlier version with the newer licensed version of the software. Additional information on obtaining earlier versions of Windows Server is contained in this document and more information on support for earlier versions of Windows Server can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle.

Microsoft provides product downgrade rights to customers because in many channels, only the latest version of a product can be acquired. By providing customers with downgrade rights, customers are able to acquire the right to use the latest version of a product while still deploying an earlier version of that product.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Downgrade Licensing Rights

The following table shows the available downgrade options for each edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 the customer is licensed to use. If a customer already has media and product activation keys for the earlier version of the product for which the customer already has downgrade rights, the customer can use that media and keys to downgrade to an earlier version. If the customer does not have media and keys, please see below on how to obtain a fulfillment kit only and which versions and editions are available for order.

Windows Server 2008 R2Windows Server 2008Windows Server 2003Windows 2000 Server
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Windows Server 2008 Standard Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Windows 2000 Server
Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter* Windows Server 2008 Datacenter* Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition* Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V*
Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium Based Systems* Windows Server 2008 for Itanium Based Systems* Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition (IA)**, or Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (IA)* N/A - no equivalent
Windows Web Server 2008 R2 Windows Web Server 2008 Windows Server 2003 Web Edition* N/A - no equivalent
Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation** Windows Server 2008 Foundation** N/A - no equivalent N/A - no equivalent
N/A - no equivalent Windows Server 2008 CAL Windows Server 2003 CAL Windows 2000 CAL
N/A - no equivalent Windows Server 2008 External Connector Windows Server 2003 External Connector Windows 2000 Internet Connector
Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services CAL Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services CAL Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services CAL Windows 2000 Terminal Services CAL
Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services External Connector Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services External Connector Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services External Connector Windows Terminal Services Internet Connector
N/A - no equivalent Windows Server 2008 Rights Management Services CAL Windows Server 2003 Rights Management Services CAL N/A - no equivalent
N/A - no equivalent Windows Server 2008 Rights Management Services External Connector Windows Server 2003 Rights Management Services External Connector N/A - no equivalent

*These editions are only available for OEM and VL customers.

**OEM only.

Note: Downgrade kits are not available for Foundation editions.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Customers

Customers who obtained their Windows Server license from a server manufacturer or installer (OEM) have the same rights to run a prior version or lower edition of Windows Server as Volume License and Retail customers: Customers may run an instance of an earlier version of Windows Server in place of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. However, the server manufacturer or installer are not obligated to supply and may not support earlier versions of the software. In addition, for some products, the OEM may not have any additional rights to supply the downgrade media.

OEM customers will need media and a product key to run a previous version. There are several options to obtain them.

  1. From a previous license. Customers may use media and/or a product key from a previous license in order to install, activate and run an earlier version of the product. The product key and media must match. If the product key being used has already been activated, the customer may not be able to activate over the internet. In these cases, the customer will be prompted to call the Activation Support Line and explain their circumstances to the Customer Service Representative. Once it is determined that the end user has a valid Windows Server license the Customer Service Representative will help them activate their software. For more information on Product Activation Call Centers go to http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/resources/vol/numbers.mspx. Some OEMs have pre-activated their software. In these cases, a customer would not need to activate over the internet or via the phone.

  2. From an OEM. Beginning in late December 2008 through December 31, 2009, some OEMs may support fulfilling Windows Server 2003 R2 downgrades (includes Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems, and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition for Itanium-based Systems) to their customers. There are several options available. Contact your OEM to determine if it supports downgrade fulfillment. Please note that downgrade media is not a new license for Windows Server. It only enables a customer to install, activate and run an earlier version of Windows Server under a Windows Server 2008 license.

    • With a new server. OEMs may offer their customers an option to have Windows Server 2003 R2 preinstalled in place of Windows Server 2008 or to have a copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 recovery media included with the server.

    • After the purchase of a new server. OEMs may offer their existing Windows Server 2008 customers one copy of downgrade Windows Server 2003 R2 media if their customer requests it.

    Some OEMs have pre-activated their software. In these cases, a customer would not need a product key or to activate over the internet or via the phone.

    For Windows Server 2008 R2 downgrade requests, end customers should fulfill downgrade requests through the Windows Server Downgrade Fulfillment site.

  3. Downgrade Media Kit. Customers who do not have media or a product key from a previous license and are unable to obtain one from their OEM, may order a downgrade media kit of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003 R2 from the Windows Server Fulfillment website. The downgrade media kit will contain a copy of Windows Server and a corresponding product key that the end user may run under a valid Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 license. The downgrade media kit is not a new license for Windows Server. The media kit is a retail version of the software and may not be supported by your server manufacturer. The customer should contact the OEM from which the server was purchased for its support policy when installing this downgrade version of the software on server hardware. To order from the Windows Server Fulfillment website, a customer will need the product key from their Windows Server 2008 license which can be found on their Certificate of Authenticity (COA). For more information on COAs, please go to www.howtotell.com. The following versions are available:

    Windows Server 2008 R2 LicenseWindows Server 2008Windows Server 2003 R2
    Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition
    Windows Server 2008 Standard Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition
    Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Windows Server 2008 Standard Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition
    Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter* Windows Server 2008 Datacenter* N/A - no Fulfillment Kit available for order
    Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition
    Windows Server 2008 Standard Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition
    Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium Based Systems* Windows Server 2008 for Itanium Based Systems* N/A - no equivalent
    Windows Web Server 2008 R2 Windows Web Server 2008 N/A - no equivalent

    Note: Customers will need to supply their own media and product keys for versions earlier than Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems, Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition for Itanium-based Systems, and Windows Server 2003 Web Edition.

  4. Down-edition Media Kit. Windows Server 2008 R2 customers also have to right to down-edition – please refer to the End User License Terms for details. The customer can order a down-edition media kit also through the Windows Server Fulfillment website. The down-edition media kit will contain a DVD/CD of Windows Server 2008 R2 and a product key that the end user may run under a valid Windows Server 2008 R2 license. The down-edition media kit is not a new license for Windows Server. To order from the Windows Server Fulfillment website, a customer will need the product key from their Windows Server 2008 R2 license. The following down-edition versions are available:

    Windows Server 2008 R2

    Windows Server 2008 R2

    Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

    Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

    Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter*

    Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
    Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

    *These editions are only available for OEM and VL customers.

    Note: Down-edition kits are only available for Windows Server 2008 R2 customers.


Microsoft Volume License Customers

When a Volume License customer desires to downgrade their version of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008, they will need to use the product key from the prior version to activate. With a Windows Server 2008 R2 license, Microsoft Volume License customers will receive product keys for:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Windows Server 2008

  • Windows Server 2003 R2

Keys will be available through the appropriate customer portal:

Microsoft Volume Licensing Program

Portal

Select License, Enterprise Agreement, Open License, Open Value and Academic Programs

Volume License Service Center (VLSC)

In the process of downgrading, if Volume License customers have a product key that was already activated, the product activation centers will provide an activation override but customers will need their original product key when contacting them. Contact the Activation Call Centers - http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/resources/vol/numbers.mspx.

Special Note Regarding Product Keys for Windows Server 2003 Web

Note: As an exception to the above policy Microsoft Volume License customers who license Windows Web Server 2008 will NOT automatically receive product keys for Windows Server 2003 Web Edition. Those customers should contact the activation call center to request a product key for Windows Server 2003 Standard or Enterprise Edition.

Obtaining Keys for Versions Prior to Windows Server 2003 R2

Volume License customers who need to obtain a product key for versions prior to Windows Server 2003 R2 will need to contact the Activation Call Center to make the request. The customer will need to contact the activation call center to get an override if they have already activated the product key they received with the earlier version. The customer may also use Windows Server product keys that were previously assigned (but not activated). If such customer has renewed their Volume Licensing Agreement, they may very well already have the appropriate product key.

Obtaining Media for Previous Versions

Microsoft Volume License Customers can obtain media for some previous versions of Windows Server, specifically for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Server 2003 from their VAR/LAR or via the appropriate customer portal (note that there will be a media cost associated with these orders):

Microsoft Volume Licensing Program

Portal

Select License, Enterprise Agreement, Open License, Open Value and Academic Programs

Volume License Service Center (VLSC)