Tradition has it that when Microsoft releases a new operating system, hardware OEMs shift to the new platform almost immediately and phase out the old OS as soon as possible. But Dell’s customers have told it, not so fast, pardner.
For the second time since establishing IdeaStorm to solicit customer feedback, Dell (Quote) is changing policy when it comes to operating system preloads. It’s already planning to add a pre-loaded Linux option, and now Dell is bringing back the choice of Windows XP.
Like most OEMs, Dell began to offer Vista as soon as it was available in January and dropped Windows XP as an option, at least for consumers. Corporate customers still had the option of purchasing XP for their systems, since corporations are often very slow and cautious in moving to a new operating system.
So, with more than 10,000 votes on IdeaStorm asking for XP as an option instead of just Vista, Dell complied. “In this particular case, it was something we could do that was relatively easy. The infrastructure was already there to offer XP on our systems, so why not?” Kent Cook, a spokesman for Dell, told internetnews.com.
Cook said there were enough subsets of customers who wanted or needed XP to merit the decision. For instance, gamers are particularly sensitive to the issue because Windows Vista is lacking in driver support, meaning less than optimal performance out of Vista systems, and many games are not yet optimized for Vista.
Still, Cook said the “overwhelming majority” of Dell customers like the features and functionality in Vista. “There are some definite improvements in security and functionality. That’s not to say there haven’t been issues in some cases, there always are when a new OS rolls out. But it’s nothing out of line from other major OS launches.”
HP (Quote) said it offers only Vista on its consumer PCs, while XP is still available for SMB (define) and corporate customers and there are no plans to change that. Gateway (Quote) is offering Vista to both consumer and corporate customers, but still offers Windows XP as an option across almost all of its consumer products.
Matt Rosoff of Directions on Microsoft expects some OEMs to sell XP for at least another year. The urgency to move to Vista isn’t as strong as it was when Windows XP came out in 2001, he said.
“There you had a transition from the DOS to NT codebase, and there was enough stability and enough of an argument for XP that consumers buying a new PC weren’t demanding Windows 9x,” he said.
He also said another reason people may hesitate in buying Vista is that even on a new PC, it has fairly steep requirements. Normally, Microsoft is about one year ahead of where critical mass is with PC hardware, but this time, Vista is a lot further ahead of current hardware configurations.
“The PCs coming out two years from now will run Vista pretty well,” said Rosoff. “Today it’s pretty steep. You need two, perhaps four gigabytes of RAM and a dual core processor to really get performance out of it.”
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