Dell to Offer XP as Vista Alternative
In a setback to Microsoft's efforts to push its new operating system, Dell Inc. said yesterday that it would begin offering Windows XP as an alternative to Windows Vista on some consumer PCs. The announcement followed steady demands made on a Dell support forum, where consumers complained that Vista created too many problems for them with old software and hardware.
"We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings," Dell said in announcing the option.
The offer is on two desktop and four notebook PCs that are lower-end, less-expensive models, and the Windows XP option did not appear to be available yet this morning. Dell did not say if the different operating systems would mean a different price, or if the Windows XP option would include an upgrade coupon for Vista, in case consumers want to make the switch later.
A Microsoft executive said it was not unusual for PC makers to offer earlier versions of Windows as an option during a transition period. "Dell is responding appropriately to a small minority of customers that had this specific request," Michael Burk, a Microsoft product manager, said in an E-mail. "But, as they have said before, the vast majority of consumers want the latest and greatest technology, and that includes Windows Vista."
Microsoft began selling Vista to consumers in late January, and almost all PCs sold in retail stores now carry the new operating system. That's unlikely to change, says Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies, a consultant to the PC industry. Dell sells almost exclusively through its website and builds each PC after it is ordered, so it less difficult for Dell to offer XP as an option.
"It does mean Dell appears to be wobbly in its support for Vista," Kay says, adding that he doesn't expect the backlash to spread too widely.