As Windows XP Deadline Looms, OEMs Turn To Vista Downgrade Rights

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) may be preparing to discontinue sales of Windows XP, but some OEMs have found a way to circumvent the software giant's June 30 deadline.

In yet another sign of the market's resistance to Windows Vista, Dell (NSDQ:Dell) Computer, Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Sony on Wednesday all confirmed plans to exercise the downgrade rights Microsoft offers with OEM versions of Windows Vista Business and Vista Ultimate in order to continue offering XP-equipped PCs to their customers.

Downgrade rights, which Microsoft also offers to volume licensing customers, give users the ability to roll back to the previous version of the product they're using. Downgrade rights have existed since 2001 for Windows, but many Microsoft partners say they've been seeing a recent uptick in the number of customers exercising downgrade rights to roll Vista back to XP Professional.

HP will sell PCs pre-installed with XP Professional on its business desktops, notebooks and workstations until July 30, 2009, a spokesperson for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor said in an email to ChannelWeb.

"After June 30, 2008, if a customer already has the XP image and license, HP also can also install that customer's image on their Vista Business systems through our HP PC Customization Services," the spokesperson said.

Dell, Round Rock, Texas, plans to offer Windows XP Professional pre-installed on new PCs for customers that buy Vista Business or Vista Ultimate "for as long as Microsoft supports it," according to a Dell spokesperson, who declined to offer a more specific timeframe.

A Microsoft spokesperson said OEMs have been given the right to provide downgrade media for Windows XP with new Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate PCs until January 31, 2009, which is also the cutoff date for system builders.

OEMs appear to have different approaches to dealing with the time costs of performing the downgrade from Vista to XP Professional before shipment.


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