Office 2013 Downgrade Rights


The most popular topic on this website. Re-Visited.

  • This article will give you a brief overview of the downgrade rights for Office.
  • This article is not intended to replace the Product Use Rights or Product List
  • Please be aware that any licensing information could be subject to change. This article confers no rights and is provided for information purposes only.

Binding Documentation

Microsoft provide the software use terms for use of prior versions  via the monthly updated Product List and the Universal License Terms of the Product Use Rights. Microsoft define the extended software use right within the Universal License Terms and then subsequently amend or retract based on product, as specified in either the General License Terms or Product-Specific License Terms and Additional Terms of the Product Use Rights document.

  • The Universal License Terms. These terms apply to all products licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing.
  • The General License Terms. These terms apply to all products that use a particular licensing model. Each licensing model section includes a list of products that use that particular model.
  • The Exceptions and Additional Terms for the product. Any additional product-specific terms are listed by product.

[See article: Hierarchy of Software Use Terms]

Downgrade Rights (Volume Licensing)

Microsoft provide the following definition in the Universal License Terms of the Product Use Rights,

“For any permitted copy or instance, you may create, store, install, run or access in place of the version licensed, a copy or instance of a prior version, different permitted language version, or different available platform version (for example, 32 bit or 64 bit). You may use different versions of components only as permitted under the Product-Specific License Terms. If you use an earlier version under these downgrade rights, Microsoft is under no obligation to provide security updates or support for the product or service beyond the end of support date listed at”

[Ref: Product Use Rights, July 2013, Page 9 of 114]

The Product List states downgrade rights as a universal software use right of Volume Agreements, but are careful to continue to set the parameters of support for older versions: “customers can acquire the latest version in order to use an older version with downgrade rights, but are eligible for support for that product only if it is listed as supported” as maintained in the software lifecycle website.

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 74 of 188]

Microsoft  offer a minimum of 10 years support for business products. This is classified as 5 years of mainstream support or for 2 years after the successor product is released (whichever is longer); and extended support provided for the 5 years following end of mainstream support; or for 2 years after the 2nd successive product is released (whichever is longer) – This is available in detail on the life policy website.


Volume Licensing: Legacy Deployments of Office

The September 2012 Licensing Brief states that downgrade rights “are granted with all application software licenses acquired through the Volume Licensing programs” wherein, Volume Agreements “give you the right to downgrade to any prior version of the same product”. 

As an example, the Multi Language Pack, when procured with an application license (for any of the following products) are eligible to version downgrade.

  • Office Standard 2013
  • Office Professional Plus 2013
  • Project Standard 2013
  • Project Professional 2013
  • Visio Standard 2013
  • Visio Professional 2013

“are eligible to use the English/Multilanguage version of a downgraded version of the product in place of the licensed version. Use of the downgraded version of the product is subject to the use rights for the 2013 version of the product. These rights expire when the customers’ rights to either the Office Multi-Language Pack 2013 or the above listed 2013 product expires.”

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 102 of 188]

The Licensing Brief document states that an organisation  “may downgrade Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 to the Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007, Office Professional Enterprise 2003, Office Professional XP” […]You may not, however, downgrade to Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2007 because it is a different product and not considered a prior version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010.”

[Ref: Downgrade Rights Licensing Brief September 2012, Page 4 of 6]

The advisory document does address issues from the consolidation of editions upon general availability of Office 2010:

”In addition, Office Professional Plus 2010 users may not use earlier versions of the Microsoft Office OneNote note-taking program and Microsoft Office Groove software via downgrade rights, because these products are not part of earlier versions of the suite (for example, OneNote 2007 and Groove 2007 are not included with Office Professional Plus 2007)”

[Ref: Downgrade Rights Licensing Brief September 2012, Page 4 of 6]

(For information purposes, I have provided a diagram of the releases of Office illustrating where a component has been upgraded, added or discontinued; Please be aware this is not derived from any Microsoft binding or advisory documentation):

IT Asset Managers should be aware, that if attempting to maintain a legacy deployment of Office Enterprise 2007 as  part of your corporate image across your organisation,“Software Assurance (SA) customers who have deployed Office Enterprise 2007 only (i.e., are not using any other edition of Office in their organization), and need additional seats of Office Enterprise 2007, may purchase licenses for Office Professional Plus 2010 and downgrade to Office Enterprise 2007. No other downgrades from Office Professional Plus 2010 to Office Enterprise 2007 are permitted.”

[Product List, November 2012, Page 95 of 175]

[Ref: Licensing Brief September 2012, Page 5 of 6]

In terms of access to software for installation, Microsoft provides guidance via the Fulfilment Website informing customers that software is available for download via the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

VLSC provides download access only to the current (N) and the last version (N-1) of products. This again drives customer behaviour to upgrade. As of December 2012 Microsoft continued to support a limited set of N-2 and N-3 prior product versions for download on VLSC but should a release be removed, this is via the Product Activation Center.

Previous product editions available through VLSC

Microsoft provide guidance on support for legacy releases of Office on the Microsoft Office Products Support Lifecycle Website

Visio Professional 2013 Downgrade Rights

IT Asset Managers should be aware, that if attempting to maintain a legacy deployment of Visio Premium 2010; Upon release of Visio Professional 2013 Microsoft extended a downgrade right for Visio Premium 2010 users only with a standardised enterprise-wide deployment of the product.

“Software Assurance customers who have deployed Visio Premium 2010 only (i.e., are not using any other edition of Visio in their organization), and need additional seats of Visio Premium 2010, may purchase licenses for Visio Professional 2013 and downgrade to Visio Premium 2010. No other downgrades from Visio Professional 2013 to Visio Premium 2010 are permitted.”

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 104 of 188]

This caveat, enshrined within the Product List requires strict software asset management controls to leverage this ‘downgrade right’ and is recommended to closely monitor deployed software in your desktop estate.

Under the Software Assurance Migration Path for Visio Premium 2010 Microsoft extended the use right to the Professional 2013 edition under the following conditions of use:

“Customers with active Software Assurance coverage for Visio Premium 2010 as of download availability date for Visio Professional 2013 are eligible to use Visio Professional 2013 in place of Visio Premium 2010.

The right to use Visio Professional 2013 under this offering expires when the right to use Visio Premium 2010 under the corresponding qualifying licenses expires. Use of Visio Professional 2013 is governed by the use rights for Visio Professional 2013 and the terms and conditions of the customer’s volume license agreement. This product condition note and the customer’s evidence of the corresponding qualifying license together evidence the right to use Visio Professional 2013 under this offer. Upon expiration of Software Assurance coverage for Visio Premium 2010, the customer may acquire Software Assurance for Visio Professional 2013 without the need to separately acquire a new license.

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 105 of 188]

This logic is consistent in the advisory brief on Visio Premium 2010 that downgrade rights are version specific, and Microsoft maintain caveats for existing maintenance (SA) customers with legacy deployments:

“Downgrade rights in Volume Licensing agreements provide customers with the right to downgrade to any prior version of the same product. However, Visio Premium 2010 is a new product without a prior version, so downgrade rights do not apply.Only Software Assurance customers who licensed Visio Professional 2007 may continue to use Visio Professional 2007 under those licenses despite their Software Assurance migration rights to Visio Premium 2010.

[Ref: Licensing Brief September 2012, Page 5 of 6]

Visio Pro for Office 365 Downgrade Rights

As an express limitation for the Office 365 Pro Plus service; The Product List states that “Visio Pro for Office 365 service has no downgrade rights.”

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 106 of 188]

Office 365 Pro Plus Downgrade Rights

An express limitation for the Office 365 Pro Plus service; the Product List states that the “Office 365 ProPlus service has no downgrade rights”.

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 104 of 188]

Microsoft do address the issue of downgrade rights under O365 Pro Plus subscriptions in a non-binding advisory document:

“In Online Services customers have access to the latest technology with the newest features and releases. As with all Subscription Services, Microsoft generally offers only the latest version of the service at a time. Therefore, downgrade rights are not available with Office Professional Plus for Office 365 licenses

[Ref: Licensing Microsoft Office Professional Plus for Office 365, June 2011, Page 3 of 6]

Is there an exception to the rule….?

Microsoft do elaborate on the topic of on-premise use downgrade rights under the O365 Office Pro Plus Subscription:

“There is a one-time exception during the introduction of Office Professional Plus for Office 365 to Enterprise and Enterprise Subscription customers. If those customers have deployed Office Professional Plus 2010 under their Enterprise or Enterprise Subscription agreement, they may use Office Professional Plus 2010 software in place of Office Professional Plus for Office 365 user authenticated software. Although those customers may be allowed to use Office Professional Plus 2010 software, they are still required to comply with the use rights under their Office Professional Subscription license and no perpetual software rights apply.”

[Ref: Licensing Microsoft Office Professional Plus for Office 365, June 2011, Page 4 of 6]

It is understood this exception, (subject to approval from your Microsoft subsidiary), could be made available for organisations that provisioned an E3 tenant prior to Office 365 commercial availability on 27th February 2013; to support continued access to Office ProPlus 2010 installer until 8th April 2014.

Windows XP will be out of support on 8th April 2014 and may drive some organisations to upgrade Windows to enable access to the new wave of cloud productivity Office 365 applications on Windows 7.

The software use right to install Office 2010 locally under Office 365 is by exception, available under a specifically agreed contractual amendment from Microsoft;  Your procurement strategy should be principally defined by binding documentation for your organisation.

An agreed exception would be notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Product Use Rights or other binding contractual documentation, to enable an organisation to install Office Professional plus 2010 locally;. However, this would likely be time limited; “[…] All customers will need to comply with Online Services upgrade requirements in the next release” and upgrade to the required version of Office Professional Plus.

[Ref: Licensing Microsoft Office Professional Plus for Office 365, June 2011, Page 4 of 6]

Driving Adoption of Cloud Services

The  Microsoft Office Website does suggest support for dual access rights for on-premise legacy office deployments, permitting customers to “keep older versions of Office side by side on your PCs to mitigate any potential file or add-in compatibility risks”   [last checked: 24.07.2013]. However, this was likely intended as a temporary right, and not aligned to the full term of the service.

The FAQ regarding Office ProPlus website is still active [last checked: 24.07.2013] and Microsoft do make the following statements: “If you have users who installed Office 2010 Subscription, you are required to upgrade to new version of Office 365 ProPlus by 28 February 2014” and “You will be able to install Office ProPlus 2010 until 28 February 2014.”; Microsoft will then remove the installation link on the Microsoft Online Portal and in May 2014 Office Professional Plus users will receive a notice and subsequently enter Reduced Functionality Mode with 30 days notice.

Taken directly from the FAQ regarding Office ProPlus website:

“We don’t want to upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus. Can’t we keep authenticating for Office ProPlus 2010?

The Product Use Rights for Office ProPlus state: “If we provide a major upgrade to software licensed under your User SLs for the online service, you must install the upgrade on all devices using the online service to prevent an interruption of the online service.” Additionally, Office Subscription customers do not have downgrade rights.

If you cannot (or do not want to) upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus by 28 February 2014, you should purchase a Volume License for Office, utilize downgrade rights, and reinstall the perpetual version of Office 2010 on all machines with Office ProPlus 2010.”

This is an interesting statement, as downgrade rights remain enshrined within Volume Licensing. Those organisations seeking to leverage on-premise deployment rights for legacy versions of Office 2010 will need to leverage the use rights under a perpetual license procured under Volume Licensing.

“We purchased Office ProPlus 2010, but deployed the version of Office Professional Plus 2010 from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). What will happen to us on 28 February 2014?
First off, it you don’t understand this question, it almost certainly doesn’t apply to you.

If you installed Office Professional Plus 2010 via the MSI on the VLSC, you will not have users entering Reduced Functionality Mode, as this version is not cloud-authenticated. You will, however, be violating your Office Subscription license agreement.”

Ref: FAQ regarding Office ProPlus [last checked: 24.07.2013].

In terms of binding-documentation, the Microsoft Product List provides the following statement on legacy software use rights for Office 2010:

“Use of Office Professional Plus 2010 or Office for Mac Standard 2011

With the release of the updated service for Office 365 ProPlus your media eligibility right to use Office Professional Plus 2010 or Office for Mac Standard 2011 in place of Office 365 ProPlus software under active subscriptions has been discontinued. You have a year, until February 28th, 2014 to upgrade your devices to Office 365 ProPlus media.

* See February 2013 Product List for full terms of media eligibility rights for Office Professional Plus Subscription”

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 103 of 192]

[Please note another useful resource: Microsoft Service Updates Website.]

The Impact of Office 365 “Add Ons”

It was recently announced that E3 and E4 SKUs under Office 365 will be available as “Add Ons”. This will support organisations to wish to retain perpetual rights to Core CAL and ECAL Suites but want to access cloud services. This was reported as effective August 1st.

This has an important impact for Office. Wherein, organisations will be able to “Add On” E3 and E4 service plans to their existing Enterprise Agreement (EA) without committing to Office 365 Pro Plus. This would support access to Lync, Exchange and SharePoint as a Microsoft hosted cloud service without committing to the software use terms and contractual commitment to Office 365 Pro Plus at outset. This is particularly advantageous to organisation’s with perpetual rights to Office Professional Plus 2013.

  • Add Ons are an “Additional Product”on the Customer Price Sheet (CPS)
  • Add Ons do not change the underlying EA. True up for Qualified Devices as normal.
  • “No minimum” for Add Ons.
  • Add Ons are for a “Primary User” for an existing qualifying underlying License. Add Ons cannot exceed underlying licenses on the Enterprise Agreement.

O365 AddOns 2

This will be reviewed later on this website, referencing available binding and non-binding advisory documentation. This is intended for information purposes only, and I am available for consultation (under NDA) as required to review your Microsoft procurement strategy.

Software Use Rights to Office Professional Plus 2013 on Remote Desktop Services

While limitation to downgrade a cloud service is logical, Microsoft do not exhaustively advise customers on ‘on-premise’ use rights of Office Professional Plus in their advisory and binding documentation.

The Product List does address that some organisations with an Office 365 Pro Plus user subscription, may require support for user profile(s) that require Office Professional Plus 2013 deployment on a network server:

“If the user to whom you have assigned an Office 365 ProPlus license uses the software on a network server with RDS role enabled, in lieu of installing a copy of the software provided with Office 365 ProPlus on one of the five permitted devices pursuant to the Product Use Rights for Office 365 ProPlus, that user may 1) install one copy of the Office Professional Plus 2013 software on a network server and 2) access the Office Professional Plus 2013 software from any device.  Upon termination of your Office 365 ProPlus subscription you must uninstall Office Professional Plus 2013 software from the network server.”

[Ref: Product List, July 2013, Page 103 of 188]

Final Thoughts

The restrictive approach to support legacy Office users was seen by some commentators as restrictive for customers who are looking to adopt cloud procurement, and see the value in signing up to cloud procurement model ‘now’, but have a longer transition roadmap for their legacy office deployed footprint that the Microsoft upgrade cycle.

Those seeking to leverage software use rights for legacy on-premise deployments of Office 2010 leveraged from the Office 365 cloud service plans that include Office 365 Pro Plus, appear to have a narrow and limited grace period (as of writing) until February 28th 2014 subject to Microsoft guidance and terms extracted above. The official date for Windows XP end of support is April 8th 2014

Organisations are responding to the User CAL Price Increase and interest in cloud hosted email and collaboration services within the E3-E4 Plans to review cloud procurement models at contract renewal. This is combined with a gradual change in the way incentives are paid to channel partners worldwide to drive cloud service adoption.

Many organisations have adopted a longer upgrade cycle than the software release cycle of a software vendor, but often choose to leverage new procurement contracts to leverage price protection, better price level, special rights of purchase, or extended software use rights, often enabled under an ‘active’ contract with Software Assurance (SA) (maintenance). This has long driven ‘net new’ volume procurement even when the technical reality in the customer would not support spend.

The role of downgrade rights has been critical for Microsoft to drive relational procurement contracts under Volume Licensing. The consistency in overall approach for common productivity applications like Office was useful, but this has since caused customer confusion with the emergence of Office as a cloud service offering within Office 365.

Those customers with existing perpetual rights to Office 2013 may seek to opt out of cloud subscription model for Office 365 Pro Plus, but may be under increasing scrutiny to prove compliance; Microsoft will continue to leverage the popularity of mobile working (and the explosion of companion devices) to incentivise adoption of the User based metric available under Office 365 Pro Plus. The up-date to the Office 365 cloud service commercial licensing model is welcomed in the support for customers who want to migrate to the cloud ‘on their terms’.

– If you would like to book an in-depth Licensing Workshop / Microsoft Strategy Workshop please drop a quick email or connect with Tony on Twitter


  1. The latest Product List (July)
  2. The latest Product Use Rights (July)
  3. The Product List Archive
  4. Microsoft Licensing Brief Downgrade Rights (September 2012)
  5. Microsoft Licensing Brief Licensing Microsoft Office Professional Plus for Office 365 (May 2013)
  6. Microsoft Lifecycle Information for Microsoft Office Products Support Website
  7. Microsoft Wiki FAQ regarding Office ProPlus
  8. Microsoft Office Website
  9. Microsoft Service Updates Website
  10. Microsoft Windows XP End of Support Website
  11. Microsoft Product Activation Center Support Website
  12. Microsoft Fulfilment Website
  13. Microsoft Support Lifecycle FAQ and Microsoft Support Lifecycle
  14. Microsoft Product Lifecycle Search
  15. Microsoft Office Products Support Lifecycle FAQ
  16. Microsoft Windows lifecycle fact sheet

All website were last checked: 24.07.2013

Other Useful Articles from this site.

Hierarchy of Software Licensing Terms

Windows Enterprise Edition – Under Review

The Multiplexing Rule – Under Review (Updated)


This website is a way to give back to the licensing community and as an information resource for all customers that work with Microsoft software and licensing. I hope you find it of value.

Tony Mackelworth is a Senior Licensing Specialist at SoftwareONE

If you would like to book an in-depth Licensing Workshop / Microsoft Strategy Workshop please drop me an email or connect with Tony on Twitter

Tony lives with his wife in Oxford, England.


This document is provided “as-is”. Information and views expressed in this document, including URL and other Internet Web site references, may change without notice. This document does not provide you with any legal rights to any intellectual property in any Microsoft or other Software Vendor product.

This article is not intended to replace the Product Use Rights or Product List or other contractual documentation.

Please be aware that nothing on this website constitutes specific technical advice. Some of the material on this website may have been prepared some time ago, may have errors, and  may have been superseded. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances.

The contents of this website are for general information purposes only. Whilst the author(s) endeavour to ensure that the information on this website is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and the primary author and website owner or it’s contributing Authors do not accept any liability for error or omission.

The contributing authors and owner of the website shall not be liable for any damage (including, without limitation, damage for loss of business or loss of profits) arising in contract, tort or otherwise from the use of, or inability to use, this website or any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken as a result of using this website or any such material.

The information presented herein is intended exclusively as a guide offered by the author(s). The publishers product use rights, agreement terms and conditions and other definitions prevail over the information provided herein.

5 thoughts on “Office 2013 Downgrade Rights

  1. simply amazing!
    There’s a huge difference between you blog and most of the licensing blogs, the quoting and the links to the references.
    keep this way, and thanks for your posts.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. It’s really appreciated when I get emails and comments. I’m open to suggestions for new articles!

  2. This is all very nice. We received the 2012 server cds but we don’t know what to do to get the 2008 cds or software. How do we get the 2008 software? Please help!!

    • Hi Verda,

      I would expect the US Navy has a decent Volume Agreement, so digital download for N-2 software may be available via VLSC. Alternative, If you move the contract(s) to SoftwareONE we also have a very decent contract management portal with access to software downloads.

      Let me know If you want any more detailed analysis/support by email.

Leave a Comment