NEC launches Vista downgrade product

The manufacturer has officially launched a product to downgrade Vista machines to XP, to meet customer demand
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The Japanese computer supplier NEC has officially launched a product to let network administrators downgrade machines running Windows Vista to XP.

The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) first made the product, NEC FlexLoad, available to customers on 25 January. However, the product was officially launched on Tuesday.

Customers with a Vista licence can purchase the two-DVD pack for £7, according to David Newbould, NEC UK's product marketing manager. The first DVD sets up a partition on the hard drive and installs core XP files and drivers, while the second DVD installs the remaining XP files in the partition, said Newbould.

NEC recommends that customers burn a Vista recovery CD before installing the XP partition.

From June, OEMs can no longer supply machines with XP as the operating system, said Newbould, yet customers still want to buy machines running XP.

"From June on, we can only ship Vista, but the market requires XP" said Newbould. "A lot of [larger] customers want to stay with XP for now, as it's a difficult task to migrate [a lot of machines]."

Newbould added that a percentage of customers see no need to move to Vista, as XP serves their needs adequately, and XP will be supported on the current Microsoft roadmap until 2012.

"We do have some customers who are very happy with XP and see [no need] to move to Vista at the moment," said Newbould. "XP is a well-established platform for customers to operate from."

NEC customers purchasing machines in bulk can also request that NEC preinstall the XP partition on their machines. Newbould said that NEC FlexLoad falls entirely within the Vista download policy, and so NEC did not have to negotiate with Microsoft when the OEM developed the software.

In November last year, analyst firm Gartner told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site silicon.com that businesses had no appetite for Vista, while analyst firm Ovum agreed that uptake had been slow. "It's taking a bit longer than expected with business take-up," said David Bradshaw, analyst at Ovum. "Realistically, it's a major cost for businesses and businesses really, really need to see the benefit first. And that benefit [regarding Vista] isn't going to emerge completely for a year or two."

Computer giant Dell also offers customers the choice to downgrade to XP, with its Dell XP Pro install disc.

"Dell is committed to offering customers a choice of operating systems, so they can select the one that is best suited to their needs," said Dell in a statement.

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