Vista downgrade costs vary in Asia

Buyers can downgrade from Vista Business or Ultimate editions to XP, but the cost of doing so varies between free and US$60, ZDNet Asia learns.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Planning to buy a pre-activated Vista computer and still run Windows XP? The cost of "downgrading" varies from one vendor to another, ZDNet Asia understands.

Since Microsoft changed its policy in June to allow its OEM partners to order Windows XP recovery disks that could be included inside the box with PCs, vendors like Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have jumped at the opportunity to meet customer demand. The new program only applies to buyers downgrading from Vista Business or Ultimate editions to XP Professional.

A call to Dell's customer hotline revealed that Dell is bundling the XP recovery CD for free with its higher-end models, such as Dell Optiplex range of desktops. Customers buying lower-end models such as the Vostro range are allowed the choice between either XP or Vista pre-installed on their systems, but not both disks.

Chinese PC giant Lenovo is also offering the XP recovery CD for Vista Business and Ultimate versions until Jul. 31, 2008. Its pricing, however, appears unclear.

Geraldine Kan, Lenovo Asia-Pacific communications director, told ZDNet Asia that Lenovo's XP recovery CD costs between US$50 and US$60, depending on the region and country. But when ZDNet Asia enquired about the XP recovery CD from a Lenovo store in Singapore, a sales representative said the store would re-install XP for free on request. ZDNet Asia was unable to clarify this further with Lenovo at press time.

Gerhard Schiele, HP Asia-Pacific director of strategic marketing for its SMB marketing personal systems group, said that HP has been offering the XP Professional recovery disk since Aug. 1, "for little or no charge", but declined to name a price for "competitive reasons".

Schiele said demand for Windows XP among businesses, especially smaller businesses, is still healthy. HP, he added, has "only recently" seen business customers express interest in Windows Vista.

"What we're hearing is that SMBs without a dedicated IT staff simply need more time to migrate their systems and applications to Windows Vista," he said.

Windows XP is still the suitable operating system for emerging markets such as China and India because of the lack of hardware requirements to run Vista, said Schiele.

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be extending XP's life for another five months. Large PC manufacturers were originally slated to stop selling XP after Jan. 31, 2008, but the deadline has been pushed to June 30 next year.

In April this year, Dell decided to bring XP back for home systems, too.

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