Microsoft Lets Vista Users Trade Down to XP

Less than a year after its much-ballyhooed rollout of Vista, Microsoft is giving in to the demands of manufacturers and business users who want to switch back to the XP operating system.

Some manufacturers, such as Dell, are already offering customers a choice of OSes in response to a groundswell of client demand. Dell reportedly began offering customers the option to move back to XP after it received thousands of requests through its IdeaStorm project, which lets customers participate in the company’s product development.

Microsoft now is offering the XP downgrade option to Vista Business and Vista Ultimate users. Those with Vista Home Premium and Home Basic installations are still stuck with the new OS.

Rocky Start

The apparent revolt against Vista on the part of users and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) is hardly surprising. The new operating system had a less-than-stellar launch. Though it’s Microsoft’s most elaborate product to date, customer reviews have been mixed, allowing prime competitor Apple to gain momentum.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s bread-and-butter customer base, the enterprise, has also been reluctant to implement Vista — not necessarily because of perceived problems with the application, but because of the accompanying IT investment that deployment invariably will require.

Is XP Better?

That said, anyone who thinks that Microsoft’s true legacy is its XP OS should think again, said Roger Kay, principal with Endpoint Technologies.

“People vilified XP for the first year of its existence,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It always takes a certain period of time for an OS to settle down among its audience.”

Enterprises, in particular, are rarely willing to make a jump right away, he noted.

Indeed, during the first month of its availability, Microsoft Vista sold upwards of 20 million licenses — more than double the number of first-month sales of Windows XP. In January 2002, the company announced sales of Windows XP licenses had exceeded 17 million after two months on the market.

While analysts may parse the meaning of these numbers — e.g., is 20 million as significant, considering that it represents global sales? — there is hardly a consensus that they represent outright failure. Since the first two months, Vista sales have regularly hit Microsoft’s targets.

“People are trying to make hay with the Vista issues, but a lot of the problems have been resolved already — they were just the normal bugs you see in any first release,” Kay said.

He predicted that adoption will pick up next year.

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