Despite Microsoft's best efforts to promote its Vista operating system, the company is bowing to customer pressure and offering free downgrades to XP (as well as extending XP's retail shelf life.)
Nine months after it launched Vista to consumers, Microsoft is begrudgingly admitting that not everyone is enamoured with the new operating system.
Vista has been dogged by reports of sluggish performance and a lack of drivers since launch. It seems that, after trying it for themselves, some customers want to revert to the tried and true Windows XP.
So, the Redmond giant has quietly extended availability of Windows XP for a further five months, to June 30 2008, and is also allowing some Vista users to downgrade their new systems.
Microsoft Australia declined an APC Magazine request for an interview on the subject, instead offering a written statement.
"OEM versions of Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate provide the end user with downgrade rights, as outlined within the license terms," says the statement.
"Although neither the OEM nor Microsoft is obligated to supply earlier versions to end users under the end user licensing terms, we are enabling OEMs who manufacture OEM Activation-enabled Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate systems to order Windows XP media so they can include the disks in-box.
"Microsoft continually listens to feedback from our partners as well as customers, and our licensing options reflect that through new options we have historically rolled out."
Microsoft maintains that end users have always had the right to downgrade from Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate Edition to XP Professional, Windows Professional x64 Edition or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
Several PC vendors have begun offering the Vista downgrade option to customers who have purchased either the Business or Ultimate versions of the OS.
Fujitsu has begun including an XP disk in boxes when shipping desktop and notebook PCs and Lenovo is offering a similar option. Lenovo has provided a step-by-step explanation on its website of the process users must take to remove Vista and replace it with XP.
Meanwhile Dell Australia, in another written statement, says it continues to offer both Vista and XP to consumer and business customers and so having a downgrade option is not needed.