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Microsoft pitches reversible Vista, XP options

Posted: 10 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Vista? XP? software? desktops?

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer has a unique sales pitch for the company's Windows Vista OSif you don't like it, you can turn it into Windows XP.

Referring to Microsoft's licensing policies that allow customers who purchase an OS to legally install predecessor versions on their PCs, Ballmer said the program allows customers who aren't satisfied with Vista to use XP.

"Customers get both," noted Ballmer, during his recent interview at Washington.

He was responding to a question raised whether Microsoft would extend Windows XP's shelf-life beyond its scheduled June 30 expiration for the broader PC market. The company previously said it would give XP a reprieve for installations on ultralow cost desktops.

Ballmer implied that an extension for mainstream PCs isn't in the cards because customers who want XP past June 30 can simply purchase Vista and exercise the downgrade option. "I don't know how you can do better than getting both," he stressed.

A number of PC makers, including Dell Inc., are offering business systems that have been "predowngraded" from Vista to XP.

Ballmer's comments indicated that Microsoft does not view the downgrade program as a mere licensing loophole through which a few disgruntled customers can retain access to Windows XP. Rather, it appears that the company is now formally endorsing the program and may in fact be counting on it to spur sales of Vista, which many businesses have rejected due to its hefty hardware requirements and incompatibilities with older applications.

The situation raised questions about sales figures that Microsoft has provided for Vista. In April, the company said it had sold more than 140 million Vista licenses since the OS became available to the public 1H 07. But Microsoft did not indicate what percentage of those licenses has been downgraded to XP.

A number of organizations in the government and commercial markets said they might bypass Vista and jump directly from XP to Windows 7 when the latter becomes available in late 2009 or early 2010.

- Paul McDougall

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