Dell to factory-install Windows XP after June 30

Side-steps OEM retirement date by 'downgrading' from Vista at the factory

Dell will continue to install Windows XP on new PCs after Microsoft's June 30 retirement date by taking advantage of a little-known clause in the downgrade rights that come with Vista Ultimate and Vista Business.

"Dell has the ability to exercise 'Windows Vista downgrade rights' on your behalf in the factory if ... you'd prefer to have Windows XP Professional preinstalled on your PCs, "Dell said on its Web site.

According to Dell, it will factory install XP after June 18 when customers choose a "Vista Ultimate Bonus" or "Vista Business Bonus" option as they configure PCs. Dell will then install Windows XP on the machine, and include backup media for that OS as well as the installation disc for Windows Vista.

Although corporations that acquire Windows through volume license agreements, or who have signed up for Software Assurance, can downgrade any Windows software at any time, Microsoft has limited others' downgrade rights: only owners of a Vista Ultimate or Vista Business license may downgrade to XP, and then only to XP Professional, Professional x64 or XP Tablet PC.

Microsoft originally put the responsibility on users' shoulders for obtaining the installation media to replace Vista with XP, but last year it began allowing OEMs to include XP discs with new PCs or offer them as an after-sale option.

But although Dell's newest move is unusual, it is not an end-run around Microsoft's rules. In a document that spells out OEM options for Vista downgrades (download PDF), a FAQ section reads:

  • Who can install the downgrade software or reinstall the original software?

  • An OEM (when authorized by end user), or the end user.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed late Friday that Dell was within its rights to factory-install XP on machines sold with a Vista Ultimate or Vista Business license.

It's standard practice for original equipment manufacturers, retailers and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released," she said in an e-mail. "Dell is exercising their right to offer Windows XP as an option. Microsoft will no longer offer the media for this process after January of 2009, but an OEM can provide [XP] as long as they have stock on hand."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?