We've already covered the plethora of Windows 7 versions, starting with the gimpy Starter edition and then running all the way up to Ultimate (which, we can now confirm, will not include a bag of chips). Microsoft's grand scheme is for users to start with what they need and pay to unlock additional functionality, upgrading their way to the top rung of the the Windows 7 ladder. But, it's now coming to light that the company will also allow downgrades -- not to simpler versions of Win 7, but to earlier operating systems like Vista and even XP. Yes, OEM manufacturers can still keep shipping XP Pro by "downgrading" Windows 7 machines through the end of April, 2010, and while HP is the only one advertising this, you can be sure they won't be alone. Interestingly these machines will still come with free Windows 7 upgrades, hopefully enticing users to give it a shot, but if they don't like it they are allowed to go back to XP on their own. Details for user-driven downgrades are a bit light at the moment, though, so don't be surprised if it requires a little fdisk action.
[Thanks, Simon B.]
Read -- Windows 7 will allow downgrades too at CNET Read -- Microsoft allows HP to wipe Windows 7 at AppleInsider Read -- Windows 7 upgrades for downgraders at Computer World