Dell: Windows XP Deadline? Fogetaboutit!

We know that Microsoft has set June 30th as the drop-dead date for Windows XP (despite their statements yesterday). Despite the fact that after June 30th, manufacturers such as Dell are not allowed to ship PCs with XP pre-installed, Dell has come up with an "escape clause."

Dell will take advantage of a licensing option in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate that lets PC makers provide XP under the Vista license, which Microsoft calls a "downgrade" license. (Enterprises with site licenses have these same rights with any version of Vista.) In essence, the user is buying a Vista license that it can apply to XP, and Microsoft can still claim a Vista sale.

Dell will preinstall XP Professional as a "downgrade" on a variety of desktop PCs and laptops, a spokesperson said, saving users the hassle of doing it themselves. The computers available with the XP option will include the Windows Vista installation DVD in the box so users can later install Vista over XP under the same license if they wish.

While the downgrade option itself is not new, the OEM installing it is.  Let's hope others follow suit, as this is a great idea.