Several tier-one PC vendors have announced they will follow Dell's lead and continue offering Windows XP on new machines after Microsoft's June 30 retirement date.
Last week, Dell announced it will be able to continue offering customers XP pre-installed by taking advantage of a little-known clause in the downgrade rights that come with Vista Ultimate and Vista Business.
According to Dell, it will factory install XP after June 18 when customers choose a "Vista Ultimate Bonus" or "Vista Business Bonus" option as they configure PCs. Dell will then install Windows XP Professional on the machine, and include backup media for that OS as well as the installation disc for Windows Vista.
Dell did not specify which systems it would sell with XP pre-installed after June 18, or how long it would tender the downgrade offer.
Lenovo will also sell XP media for downgrading through January 31, 2009, according to its website. HP Australia spokesperson, Brad Swiney, confirmed it will also be offering a similar service from the factory after June 30. While all machines will be shipped with Vista licenses, customers will be able to choose to have their machines imaged with XP.
"We're happy with Vista uptake, but we're monitoring customer demand closely and at this stage there's still demand to provide XP as a solution," Swiney said.
NEC will also continue offering XP Professional as a pre-installed option for larger customers under the Vista downgrade license model post-June 30. It will then offer XP on disc with its computer range to the broader channel, regional sales director, Tim Falinksi, said.
"We are seeing large demand already for June for machines with XP Professional installed, which I think reflects our channel partners' efforts to stock up on those machines," he said.
Acer's Australian head of product management, Robin Tang, said the vendor supported Microsoft's stand on retiring Windows XP for factory-built new machines but did not rule out re-configuring machines for commercial customers after the June 30 deadline.
"The market is not migrating as fast [to Vista] as Microsoft would like it to," he said. "There's still a market for XP, but from a product offering point of view, we are supporting Microsoft's push for Vista."
While large enterprises were expected to take longer to migrate to the new operating system, Tang claimed mid-sized and smaller businesses were also dragging the chain.
"One major concern is technical support - that's where small and mid-sized businesses are most challenged," he said. "The other critical factor is the legacy of peripherals and software applications that require drivers - these haven't been prepared as quickly and has slown down adoption of Vista."
A Toshiba spokesperson was unavailable to comment on whether it would pre-install XP for customers at time of press, but a representative said five of its new notebook releases came with an XP downgrade option for customers not wanting to move to Vista.