updated 02:25 pm EDT, Wed June 18, 2008
Dell XP Downgrade
Dell is charging some customers as much as $50 to switch from Windows Vista to XP on their systems, according to the company. Buyers picking a system from the company's Vostro business line can choose to install XP Professional instead of Vista Business but must pay an additional $50 beyond the price it takes to upgrade to Vista Business itself. Users face a reduced fee for the downgrade if moving from Vista Ultimate but still pay more than for the upgrade to a higher Vista edition than what comes preloaded on the system.
The PC maker notably doesn't charge for the downgrade for higher-end computers, including Latitude portables and Optiplex workstations. It also allows buyers to keep the existing copy of Vista but requires that the newer operating system be purchased alongside the downgrade. A handful of Dell's XPS gaming systems, including the XPS 630/720 H2C towers and the M1730 desktop replacement notebook, also have the downgrade option for an extra fee.
Dell's move raises questions about the costs of licensing for Windows XP. The company is shutting down most regular XP sales after today to ensure that it has shipped all of its XP-only systems by Microsoft's June 30th cut-off date for the software, but until now has not publicly revealed what if any premium it would charge to continue using the 2001-era operating system; common observations had suggested Dell would charge a relatively minimal fee preserving the old OS.
The Texas-based system builder is believed to have complicated Microsoft's attempts to move the PC industry more quickly to Vista. Dell was one of the first companies to restore an XP option for its systems in April of last year amid a backlash by businesses as well as home users, both of whom resisted the OS after claims of sluggish performance on some configurations as well as peripheral driver problems created both by Microsoft and by third-party hardware. Workplaces have also raised concerns over compatibility with some of their necessary programs.
Company representatives have said that the downgrade option will exist until the start of 2009, when Microsoft pulls system reseller rights to continue offering XP for downgrades and will limit the OS to very low-cost, low-performance systems such as ASUS' Eee PC. [via Computerworld]