Dutch consumer group disses Vista

Microsoft says 'nee' when asked to give all new PC buyers downgrades to XP

A Dutch consumer protection association told PC buyers to avoid Windows Vista, Microsoft's newest operating system, after the U.S. company's Dutch arm said it would not provide all consumers with downgrades to the older XP.

After receiving approximately 5,200 complaints about Vista in a six-week span that ended last month, Consumers Union (Consumentenbond) approached Microsoft Netherlands and asked that new computer buyers who had problems with Vista be given the option of a free downgrade to XP. Microsoft denied that request.

Microsoft allows downgrades to XP from Vista only to PC buyers whose machines came pre-installed with Vista Ultimate or Vista Business. Microsoft does not provide XP install media, but this northern summer, it relaxed earlier restrictions and allowed computer makers to give new PC buyers XP discs. Individuals who purchase machines running Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium -- the latter is the most popular version of the operating system -- must pay for a new XP Home or XP Professional license to downgrade.

Unlike consumers and small businesses that buy retail, enterprises that acquire Microsoft's software through volume-license agreements can downgrade any Windows software at any time.

When its proposal was rejected by Microsoft, Consumentenbond recommended that only consumers confident in their technical skills should buy a PC with Vista pre-installed. The association also called on computer sellers to swap operating systems when dissatisfied customers asked for a downgrade from Vista.

Microsoft officials were unavailable for immediate comment.

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Gregg Keizer

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