Dell's Not a Vista Turncoat After All

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With the flourish of a thoughtful concierge, Dell recently said it would bow to consumer desires and again install Windows XP on some laptops and desktops. The move generated good publicity for Dell and some bad buzz for Microsoft, which was seen as suffering a setback in its push for Windows Vista.

Turns out the gesture was more hollow than it first appeared. You have to dig pretty deep to find WinXP as an option for home-oriented PCs. It's not available to the vast numbers of shoppers who stumble into Dell's normal "home and home office" sites, where Vista remains the only choice.

XP loyalists have to ferret out the option in an entirely different area, the IdeaStorm forum that Dell started some months ago to solicit customer ideas. There, buried in the "Ideas In Action" section, where Dell announces how it is being responsive to customer ideas, are a couple of tiny links to where consumers can buy a few laptops and desktops with WinXP.

I configured one of the available laptops, and the price appeared to come out the same as one configured–through the normal shopping sites–with Vista. But in configuring the WinXP machine, I was warned that choosing the old Windows version could hold up my delivery date. The site didn't say how long the laptop would be delayed, but I imagine it would be at least days. From my experience, it would be quicker to just spend a few hours wrestling with the changes wrought by Vista rather than trying to get a Dell with XP. Maybe that's the idea.