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Another PC maker touts Vista downgrade

By Tom Jowitt, TechWorld
February 05, 2008 09:42 AM ET

TechWorld - NEC Computers has launched a kit that will allow IT administrators to quickly "downgrade" machines running Windows Vista Business to Windows XP Professional.

Known as NEC FlexLoad, the kit is comprised of two DVDs, and is now included in its Versa notebooks and PowerMate desktops ranges for the EMEA region.

"We still offer NEC computers running XP as an option for customers," said David Newbould, U.K. product marketing manager. "However, NEC FlexLoad is designed for XP users who may want to upgrade to Vista in the future."

NEC Computers, like other PC makers, will not be able offer XP on new machines from the summer (except for orders of 50 plus).

"The user can burn the recovery data from the Vista machine so they can load it in the future," Newbould told Techworld. "They then run FlexLoad, which is bespoke software. It converts the machine to XP using the second DVD."

"The machine is licensed to run Vista, but is now running XP," he added. "When the customer wants to run Vista, they can take the burned DVD and can reinstall Vista. This solution also allows customers to downgrade to XP after the summer deadline."

NEC says the downgrade can be accomplished by the administrator without any specific technical skills within 15 minutes.

NEC does not directly address the consumer market, but rather sells into the business and public sector, including education. For customers purchasing a Versa notebook and PowerMate desktop, there is a small charge of £7 for NEC FlexLoad. It can be acquired separately, but existing Versa and PowerMate users will be charged £10.

Back in September last year, Microsoft allowed users fed up with running Windows Vista Business or Windows Ultimate to ditch Vista for Windows XP Pro.

Dell, HP, and Lenovo are just a few of the system manufacturers offering downgrades. Each of these PC makers offer an XP Pro recovery disc to those who request one that can be used to revert a Vista machine to XP Pro.

"Customer demand for this (Vista downgrade) varies," said Newbould. "Generally speaking, large corporates are slower moving towards Vista, than the SMB market." A small amount of customers are reportedly waiting for Windows 7, missing Windows Vista entirely.

Since Vista was launched 14 months ago, it has sold more than 100 million licenses (as of 9 January), but many businesses and government agencies have delayed the move to Vista. British schools were recently advised by a government agency not to upgrade to Microsoft's Vista operating system and Office 2007 productivity suite.

Forrester Research revealed last November that businesses were continuing to avoid Vista, as continued loyalty to XP remained a bigger hindrance to Windows Vista sales than Mac OS X and Linux.

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