HPE OEM Microsoft Windows Server FAQ Series- Part 9: Windows Server Downgrades

Today we answer some of the frequently asked questions we hear about Microsoft Windows Server downgrades. 

1) What is a Windows Server downgrade?
The right to run an earlier version of the licensed product is an end user right that is provided under the Microsoft Software License Terms for certain products, and is called a downgrade. For example, the License Terms for Windows Server 2016 provide end users with the right to downgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012. 

What are my customers’ downgrade rights?
Many Microsoft software products include the right to use an earlier version of the software in place of the version you licensed. For information on the downgrade rights for specific Microsoft products, refer to the end-user license terms of the Microsoft software license. Additional information about downgrade rights may be available at the Microsoft website for each product family:

Windows Server downgrade rights are granted to end-users in the license terms and allow them to use prior versions of the software—such as Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2012—until they are ready to migrate to the purchased version of Windows Server.

The ability to downgrade does not change the licensing or support terms for using the product; the purchased product rights still apply.

3) What is a Windows Server down-edition?
Windows Server down-edition rights allow users to run an instance of a lower edition (here, “edition” refers to the named version: Essentials, Standard, Datacenter) of Windows Server, this is applicable only for certain products, and permitted under the product License Terms.

For example: Windows Server 2016 Datacenter licenses allow the end user to run an instance of Standard edition in place of an instance of the Datacenter edition.

4) Why are downgrade & down-edition rights important?
Downgrade and down-edition rights can simplify application migration scenarios for your customers by allowing them to license the newest Microsoft Windows Server product and then run earlier versions and/or down-editions of Windows Server—to support legacy business applications that have not yet migrated to the latest technology—until they are ready to migrate to the purchased Windows Server license. This allows customers to maximize their IT investment.

5) What downgrade/down-edition options are available from Hewlett Packard Enterprise?
Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter editions include the right to downgrade the software to use prior versions or lower editions. Please refer to the Downgrade rights information at to learn about options that can be fulfilled by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

6) How do I request a downgrade for Windows Server 2016?
HPE offers a fulfillment service for selected downgrade and down-edition media and activation keys. HPE can fulfill these in two ways:

  1. With server purchase: When a customer purchases a HPE OEM Windows license on an HPE ProLiant platform they can request the downgrade kit at time of purchase. Most common downgrade options are available from factory.
  2. After server purchase: If a customer already has a HPE Windows server kit, they can place a request for a downgrade at the HPE downgrade fulfillment website for Windows Server Media at **To do this, customers must provide a proof of purchase of their Windows Server license—such as a picture of their Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label Downgrade media and keys are delivered via mail.


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About the Author


Willa manages the HPE | Microsoft Coffee Coaching program. Follow along to learn more about the latest HPE OEM Microsoft product releases and how the HPE Microsoft partnership can benefit partners and customers.