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Windows XP Redux: Dell Revives Predecessor To Vista

Dell said it would add Windows XP as an option for its Inspiron 1405, 1705, 1505, and 1501 notebook PCs and its Dimension E520 and E521 desktops.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates might not invite fellow billionaire Michael Dell for tea anytime soon.

Just weeks after Dell Inc. announced that it would add Microsoft Windows rival Linux to the list of operating systems available on its PCs, the company has again juggled its lineup in a way that could further dampen sales of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system.

Dell said late Thursday that it's reintroducing Windows XP -- Vista's predecessor technology -- as an option on its consumer and home-office PCs based on customer demand. "We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings," said a statement posted on Dell's Web site.

Dell said it would add Windows XP as an option for its Inspiron 1405, 1705, 1505, and 1501 notebook PCs and its Dimension E520 and E521 desktops. A check of Dell's Web site also showed that the company is offering Windows XP Media Center edition as the preferred operating system for its high-end XPS 710 Level 1 gaming system.

The company also continues to offer Windows XP as an option on its enterprise PCs.

Dell's decision to reintroduce Windows XP as an option on its home computers is surely not sitting well at Microsoft. Windows Vista launched in January following a months-long, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that touted Vista's many sleek features, including its Aero 3-D interface and enhanced desktop search tools.

There are signs, however, that some consumers aren't willing to pay more for computers that meet Vista's considerable memory and processor requirements just to access those features. "People are happy enough with XP, and they don't want Vista," wrote one poster on the Internet's popular Slashdot technology forum.

To experience all of Vista's features, PC users need a computer with at least a 1-GHz processor, 1 Gbyte of memory, and a 40-Gbyte hard drive. By contrast, Windows XP Professional requires only a 300-MHz processor, 128 Mbytes of RAM, and a 1.5-Gbyte disk.

Beyond system requirements, some computer users are disappointed that a number of their applications don't run properly on Windows Vista-based systems. "None of my favorite software is Vista compatible. I might have to buy used XP computers for years," wrote a poster on Dell's online customer message board.

Some software developers, including Adobe Systems, have said they have no plans to patch older products to make them Windows Vista compatible -- meaning that many customers who upgrade to the new operating system also will have to buy new applications. It's a scenario that could keep some potential Vista buyers on XP for as long as possible.

In a statement, a Microsoft official insisted that Dell's decision to reintroduce Windows XP doesn't signal widespread discontent with Windows Vista. "The vast majority of consumers want the latest and greatest technology, and that includes Windows Vista," said Microsoft product manager Michael Burk in an e-mail.

Microsoft recently said that it sold 20 million Windows Vista licenses in the operating system's first month of availability; the company sold 17 million Windows XP licenses in its first two months on the market.

Dell officials weren't immediately available for comment.

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