Dell's 'Vista Bonus': It's Windows XP - InformationWeek

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Software // Operating Systems

Dell's 'Vista Bonus': It's Windows XP

Many computer users -- especially businesses -- have decided to forgo upgrading to Vista, citing its cost, resource requirements, and incompatibilities with older software.

For an extra $99, Dell is offering bonus software to buyers of Windows Vista computers. The bonus: a fully functioning, preinstalled copy of Windows XP Professional.

Despite the fact the Microsoft formally retired Windows XP on Monday, "customers who are buying a new PC have an opportunity from Dell to buy a Dell PC with Windows XP pre-installed and receive a Windows Vista installation disc," Dell said in a note on its Web site.

Dell is calling the offer its Windows Vista Bonus program.

Dell appears to be taking advantage of a loophole in Microsoft's licensing terms that allows a buyer of its most current operating system to downgrade to a previous version without having to purchase an additional license.

"This gives customers the option of running XP now and transitioning to Vista when they're ready," said Dell.

Many computer users -- especially businesses -- have decided to forgo upgrading to Vista, citing its cost, resource requirements, and incompatibilities with older software. Instead, they'll likely wait until Microsoft releases Windows 7 in 2010 to upgrade from XP.

Dell isn't the only one that's pulling an end run around Microsoft's XP retirement.

Psystar, the upstart computer maker that's selling unauthorized Mac clones, apparently isn't content to just ruffle Apple's feathers. It's also continuing to offer XP as an option.

As of July 1, one day after Windows XP officially went off the market, Psystar was selling the Professional version of the OS as a $150 option on its Open Computer and Open Pro systems. Users also can choose to load those systems with Apple's Leopard OS, a move that appears to violate Apple's ban on installing its Mac operating systems on third-party hardware.

Publicity-shy Psystar may be exploiting yet another loophole in Microsoft's XP road map. The company cut off shipments to large computer makers and to retailers on June 30. However, it said it would make XP available to "system builders" through July 2009.

It's unclear whether Psystar -- which offers a range of IT products -- falls under Microsoft's definition of a system builder, a term usually reserved for small, independent shops.

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