Confirmed: Windows 7 users will have XP downgrade option

After a flurry of blog activity over the weekend, leading into today, concerning the extended availability of Windows XP, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Betanews early this evening that general Windows 7 users will be given the option of downgrading right over Vista to Windows XP.

"This is not the first time that Microsoft has offered downgrade rights to a version other than its immediate predecessor," the spokesperson told Betanews, "and our Software Assurance customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows."

The news of the two-step downgrade option emerged after reports over the weekend that Microsoft was extending the availability of Windows XP for "ultra-low-cost PCs" (essentially netbooks) as far as one year past Windows 7's eventual release date. As the spokesperson also confirmed to Betanews today, although the date of that announcement appeared to be last Friday, a closer look would have revealed that announcement was made a year ago last Friday. June 2010 would be the earliest that Microsoft would terminate XP's availability, according to that announcement, and the spokesperson confirmed that nothing has changed there.

Will XP users -- including those who've just recently purchased netbooks with XP pre-installed -- be given incentives to upgrade to Windows 7? The spokesperson told us it's too early for the company to make any announcements regarding such incentives, clearly declining to close the door on that option just yet.

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