Dell will charge customers up to $50 to factory install Windows XP on some PCs after Wednesday, according to the company's Web site.
Buyers of the low-priced Vostro line of desktops and notebooks will pay $20 to $50 more for Windows XP Professional installed as a "downgrade" to Windows Vista Business or Vista Ultimate than they would for Vista only.
To meet Microsoft's June 30 end-of-availability deadline , Dell will stop pre-installing most versions of the seven-year-old operating system after Wednesday. However, it will still be able to ship PCs with XP by taking advantage of the downgrade rights built into Vista Business and Vista Ultimate. Downgrading lets Dell install Windows XP Professional in lieu of Vista, although the newer OS is still shipped with the machine so that buyers can, if or when they want, transition from XP to Vista.
Vista Business and Vista Ultimate are the only generally-available editions that allow downgrades, and can be downgraded only to Windows XP Professional. By Microsoft 's licensing terms, the less-expensive XP Home cannot be installed as a downgrade.