More than one in every three new PCs is downgraded from Windows Vista to the older Windows XP, either at the factory or by the buyer. Under the terms of Microsoft’s end-user licensing agreement, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate can be “downgraded” to XP Professional; businesses that purchase Vista Enterprise can also downgrade to XP.
Although Microsoft retired Windows XP from mainstream availability at the end of June — it stopped shipping the seven-year-old operating system to retail and large computer makers — some OEMs have continued to offer new PCs with XP preinstalled by doing the downgrade at the factory. Hewlett-Packard Co., for example, has promised that it will offer the downgrade option on its business-class desktops, notebooks and workstations through July 2009.
For weeks now there’ve been rumors that major PC makers, like Hewlett-Packard, have been quietly selling PCs with a Vista license but actually shipping them with the now “outlawed” Windows XP installed (no doubt using the “downgrade” license loophole).
Christopher Null offers this conundrum:
One of the few nice things about Windows Vista is that you can legally choose not to use it.
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