updated 03:55 pm EDT, Thu April 19, 2007
Dell Casts Doubts on Vista
Dell today revealed that it will restore the option to use Windows XP on some of its home systems, marking a potentially damaging blow to Microsoft's hopes for the newer Windows Vista. The Dimension E520 and E521 as well as virtually all of the company's Inspiron notebooks can immediately be custom-ordered with XP in Home or Professional editions, giving cautious buyers the opportunity to use the earlier OS. The change in policy was the result of user feedback, Dell claims.
While a popular request through the company's IdeaStorm website, the choice was substantially outnumbered by requests for pre-installed Linux, US-based technical support, and other features -- pointing to a larger general demand for the change. The turnaround may be a reflection of an overall backlash against Vista, observed IDC analyst Richard Shim.
"That there is remaining demand from some segment of consumer market points to the inability of Vista to resonate with consumers," he said. The researcher noted that the sales spike for Vista may have been buyers waiting to buy their normal PC upgrades rather than a genuine climb in interest.
Microsoft itself has pushed for a hasty end to the 2001 operating system and earlier hinted it would discontinue XP for pre-assembled systems by next year.
Dell was one of the most vocal early supporters of Vista, announcing before the software's January 30th launch that all its PCs would come preloaded with the Microsoft program from the outset. However, the company has been increasingly pressured into offering Windows XP for more and more of its PCs. The company was forced for some time to keep XP as an option for some of its high-end XPS gaming desktops and notebooks after NVIDIA driver flaws prevented the company from delivering reliable Vista systems.
The company has also contradicted itself as recently as this month, when it announced that some small business systems would offer the choice of the older version. At the time Dell contended that most of its buyers' "demand [was] for the 'latest and greatest,'" giving the system builder little reason to offer more than the newest OS as a choice for the home.
Neither Dell nor Microsoft was available for comment on Thursday. [via CNET]