Finding Windows XP Now That It's 'Officially' Cancelled

Getting a copy of XP these days is like buying whiskey during Prohibition. It can be done, but you need to know the secret handshake.


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So here we are in late July and it has been nearly a month since Microsoft “officially” stopped shipping Windows XP. However, lukewarm response from end users to Windows Vista and the grassroots “Save XP” movements have softened Microsoft’s stance.

Therefore, to appease the masses and the OEM’s, Microsoft has offered a downgrade option to users who purchase Windows Vista Business or Ultimate. Purchasing either version from an OEM will allow a user to get a Windows XP license and have the downgrade installed from the manufacturer.

Okay, problem solved, right?

Microsoft gets the sales of a Vista product – and not just a Vista product but a Business or Ultimate license. The end-user can ask the manufacturer to install Windows XP Professional on their new hardware. Sounds like a win-win situation. Everyone gets what they want.

But not so fast. Yes, there’s a small problem.

That problem is trying to get that downgraded Windows XP license. Come on, you didn’t actually think it was going to be easy did you?

I have been involved in the Windows side of the technology business for over a decade. If there is one thing that has always frustrated me it was the Microsoft licensing piece. If you thought it was crazy and convoluted before, in the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive: you ain’t seen nothing yet.

You see, it seems that neither the manufacturer’s Web sites – or their sales reps, if you try to phone in the order – are clear on what the program is exactly.

It exists… you can get it… but it’s not easy. At all.

Of the Web sites that I’ve checked none seems to offer the ability to downgrade for Home users. So, if you are a home user looking to get XP Pro installed on that new system all I could say is…sorry.

Calling the sales center for the Home & Home Office users is no better. It seems most of the sales reps are not aware that you can downgrade. If your level of frustration has been low lately, and you have the need for unnecessary stress, try convincing one of these reps that you have the right to purchase the Vista license and get the XP downgrade license.

It seems they haven’t been told the same things you and I have. As a result, it’s almost impossible for a home user to get XP shipped installed.

I did find one manufacturer who offered Vista Ultimate installed and then gave the option of getting a Windows XP restoration CD. So, you get that brand new PC with everything installed and then you need to wipe the entire system – including a drive reformat since XP uses NTFS and Vista uses the new NTFS5 file system.

One the business side it is less impossible but still just as frustrating. Using the business Web sites, you can get the “downgrade” but be prepared to pay. Some manufacturers are only offering it with the higher end business machines. Others will charge you a premium for installing XP on the system for you. Some offer the downgrade only with Vista Business, not for Vista Ultimate.

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Tags: Windows, Microsoft, PC, Vista, Windows XP

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