Microsoft's long-standing OS-downgrade policy became a big subject of discussion over the past year because so many business users opted to stick with Windows XP, foregoing Windows Vista. This week, the software giant revealed that it will also allow its business customers to downgrade from Windows 7 to XP, and it's generated a lot of press because many had apparently expected Microsoft to use Windows 7 as a cudgel to finally beat back XP for good.

That's not how it works, people. Microsoft has always allowed its customers to downgrade to whatever Windows versions were released over the previous several years. XP buyers, for example, could downgrade to Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 98 when XP first shipped. And Microsoft enterprise customers who license Vista can downgrade to XP, 2000, NT 4.0/3.51, or even Windows 98/95.

Put simply, Microsoft has always offered downgrade rights to its business customers, and it will do so with Windows 7 as well. The big difference this time around, of course, is that very few customers are likely to take advantage of the deal, especially considering the critical reception of Windows 7 compared with Vista. Testers cite Windows 7's improved (and XP-like) performance and compatibility as reasons why the new OS will be more successful than its predecessor