Amid significant customer demand, the computer maker said on Thursday that it has returned to offering the older Windows version as an option on some of its consumer PCs.
Like most computer makers, Dell switched nearly entirely to Vista-based systems following Microsoft's mainstream launch of the operating system in January. However, the company said its customers have been asking for XP as part of its IdeaStorm project, which asks customers to help the company come up with product ideas.
"We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings," Dell said on its Ideas in Action page. Users get to vote on various suggestions, and the notion of bringing back XP got 10,000 "points," making it among the most popular requests but well below top picks such as adding Linux or OpenOffice.org to its PCs.
Windows XP systems became scarce, but not impossible to find, after Vista arrived. For example, Hewlett-Packard said it would continue selling XP on some machines aimed at small and midsize businesses, while CompUSA still stocks a couple of business-oriented XP systems in its retail stores. Lenovo has also continued shipping XP on many of its business systems.
Starting immediately, Dell said, it is adding XP Home and Professional as options on four Inspiron laptop models and two Dimension desktops.
Earlier this month, Dell added XP back as an option for small-business customers, but at the time, it said it would not add it back for home users.
"Dell does not have plans to launch Windows XP for home users as the preference, and demand is for the 'latest and greatest' technology, which includes Windows Vista," Tom West, director of small-business marketing at Dell, said in a blog posting at the time.
Analysts say Dell's move is not a good sign for Windows Vista.
"That there is remaining demand from some segment of (the) consumer market points to the inability of Vista to resonate with consumers," IDC analyst Richard Shim said.
There was an initial bump for Vista sales right after its launch, Shim said, but some of that may have been from consumers who delayed purchasing a PC late last year. Sales in the later part of the first quarter were less strong, he said. The overall response to Vista will become clearer throughout the year, he said.
Microsoft representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Dell, Microsoft, Windows XP, Home PC, Home System