updated 03:00 pm EST, Fri December 5, 2008
Dell Charging XP Premium
Dell has returned a Windows XP option to some of its home systems but is now charging as much as $150 for the privilege. The company's Inspiron 1525 notebooks and Inspiron 530 regular and slimline desktops now all have an option to configure a system with Windows XP that uses a surcharge to take advantage of Microsoft's "downgrade" loophole intended for business PCs. Dell gives users a pre-installed copy of Windows XP Professional in exchange for paying to upgrade to Vista Ultimate.
The feature is unusual for home systems, which in many cases were the first to become Vista-only regardless of the PC firm. Dell has already been offering XP for its business PCs but often charges a lower $99 by letting these buyers opt for Vista Business, which is normally off-limits to the home Inspiron line.
Dell's quiet introduction suggests a continued reaction by customers against Vista. The company had initially been pushed to restore an XP option as early as April 2007 and had introduced the business downgrade only when Microsoft's self-imposed late June cutoff date for regular XP sales pushed Dell to use an alternative method.
The experience is commonly believed to reflect a wider experience among PC makers. In Electronista's experience with Toshiba's Laptop Experts advice service, users are now regularly asking about installing XP over Vista on computers where the newer operating system has normally been the only choice.
Microsoft has regularly stressed its belief that many of these buyers are operating on assumptions based on early compatibility and performance issues with Vista and that later updates have largely addressed these problems. The company's current $300 million ad campaign is meant both to restore positive discussion about Windows in general and to counteract what it believes are stereotypes of Vista's behavior. [via Alley Insider]