NEC's FlexLoad "enables you to make a fast and easy downgrade" from the Business edition of Windows Vista to Windows XP Professional, NEC said in a statement. The software works with NEC's PowerMate PCs and Versa laptops.
NEC is including FlexLoad with all Versa systems shipped after February, and it's making it available as an option on PowerMate computers. FlexLoad also gives users the ability to restore their computers to Windows Vista at a later time.
"The solution is based on the legal downgrade policy of Microsoft," NEC said in a statement. That means users who downgrade from Vista to XP need pay for just one operating system license.
NEC is the latest PC maker to offer business customers a path back to Windows XP. Others, including Dell and Hewlett Packard, recently re-introduced XP as an on option on certain commercial system.
The problem: Many businesses are balking at Vista's resource requirements and compatibility problems with existing software.
There's also evidence that Windows XP outperforms Vista. Researchers at Devil Mountain Software, a Florida-based developer of performance management tools, have posted data from their most recent Windows performance tests -- and Vista, even after it's been upgraded to the new Service Pack 1, is shown to be a laggard.
The researchers compared patched and unpatched versions of Vista and XP running Microsoft Office on a dual-core Dell notebook. The results revealed the time taken to complete Office productivity tasks such as the creation of a compound document and presentation materials.
Windows XP trounced Windows Vista in all tests -- regardless of the versions used or the amount of memory running on the computer. In fact, XP proved to be roughly twice as fast as Vista in most of the tests.
As a result, many businesses are sticking with Windows XP for as long as possible. And some may bypass Vista altogether and wait to upgrade their PCs to Windows 7, a Vista successor that's due out in 2010.
An InformationWeek survey last year found that 30% of businesses have no plans to upgrade their computers to Vista.