More than five months after it stopped selling its popular Inspiron line of consumer desktop and laptop PCs with Windows XP, Dell Inc. is now offering the systems with the aging operating system for a surcharge of $150 over the newer Windows Vista. Dell’s Inspiron 1525 notebooks and 530 desktops can be ordered with Windows XP Professional pre-installed for an extra $150, according to the company’s Web site. Dell is selling the Inspiron 1525 notebooks with a Vista Business license; buyers of the Inspiron 530 and 530s desktops can purchase either a Vista Business license, or for an additional $20, a license for Vista Ultimate.
Computer manufacturers can install Windows XP Professional on PCs at the factory by taking advantage of the “downgrade” rights built into Vista Business and Vista Ultimate. Those rights let Dell install Windows XP Professional in lieu of Vista, although the newer operating system is still shipped with the machine so that buyers can, if or when they choose, move from XP to Vista.
Vista Business and Vista Ultimate are the only generally-available editions that allow downgrades, and they can be downgraded only to Windows XP Professional. Under Microsoft’s licensing terms, the less-expensive XP Home cannot be installed as a downgrade