While Microsoft is still pushing Vista hard, the company is quietly allowing PC makers to offer a "downgrade" option to buyers that get machines with the new operating system but want to switch to Windows XP.
The program applies only to Windows Vista Business and Ultimate versions, and it is up to PC makers to decide how, if at all, they want to make XP available. Fujitsu has been among the most aggressive, starting last month to include an XP disc in the box with its laptops and tablets.
"That's going to help out small- and medium-size businesses," Fujitsu marketing manager Brandon Farris told CNET News.com.
Hewlett-Packard also started a program in August for many of its business models. "For business desktops, workstations and select business notebooks and tablet PCs, customers can configure their systems to include the XP Pro restore disc for little or no charge," HP spokeswoman Tiffany Smith said in an e-mail. She said it was too soon to gauge how high customer interest has been. "Since we've only been offering (it) for about a month, we don't really have anything to share on demand."
A Microsoft representative confirmed there were some changes made over the summer to the options computer makers have with respect to XP, but the representative was not immediately able to elaborate on those changes.
While there is always resistance by some to move to a new operating system, there appears to be particularly strong demand, especially from businesses, to stick with XP.
One of the challenges, for both businesses and consumers are Vista's hefty graphics and memory needs.
Lenovo, for its part, has details for its downgrade program on its IBM ThinkPad Web site.
Dell spokeswoman Anne Camden said Dell has been offering businesses that have a Premier Page set up the option to order systems with XP, Vista or Vista with XP downgrade rights. There is no extra charge for the downgrade rights.
"We've been offering it and we're still offering it," she said.
HP, Gateway and others also still sell machines with XP on them, nearly a year after Microsoft first started offering Vista to businesses. Vista went on sale broadly to consumers in January, at which point XP largely disappeared from retail shelves.
However, demand for XP has remained. In April, Dell brought XP back as an option even on consumer PCs.
There is an issue, though, over how long PC makers can keep selling machines with Windows XP as the preloaded operating system. Microsoft is requiring large PC makers to stop selling XP-based systems as of January 31, though some PC makers would like to sell XP machines for longer.
"We're all lobbying for it," Farris said.
Source:→ CNET News