So much for the appointment of Satya Nadella ushering in a new era of conciliation. In a decision that belies belief, Microsoft has pulled all external links to Windows 7 ISO downloads and has now made the downloads available for ‘retail’ Windows users only.
Until quite recently, all Windows 7 users were able to download ISOs from various online sources, including all editions and SP1. Now, however, these download links are no longer working and instead, the user is being re-directed to a Microsoft page which includes a link to download direct:
Note the line: “If you have purchased your Microsoft Windows software from another source, but have the software key provided by Microsoft, you can download the Windows operating system from the following website:”
All well and good. However, this applies to retail Windows users only, OEM product keys are NOT accepted – and that, my friends, eliminates the vast majority of Windows 7 users from the equation.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
Windows 7 currently accounts for more than 50% of all Windows users. Microsoft estimates that more then 1.5 billion people are currently using Windows, so that equates to Windows 7 user numbers in the hundreds of millions. Seeing how the vast majority of those users would be running OEM licensed operating systems, that’s a heck of a lot of users who will no longer be able to download a Windows 7 ISO.
I realize that, strictly under the terms of OEM licensing, the onus is on manufacturers to provide this kind of support, but really, what harm would it do to allow every Windows 7 user access to these downloads? A genuine product key is still required to download, validate and activate the operating system and, in the case of OEM licensing, installation on original (or identical) hardware remains a key element for activation.
All most users are looking for is an ISO as a backup plan, not to rip off Microsoft. As far as I am concerned, just when I thought Microsoft had finally seen the light, this decision comes as yet another kick in the pants for a whole swag of Windows users.