Dell relents, offers Windows XP as consumer option

Lobbying means US customers can buy XP machines

Dell on Thursday bowed to pressure from customers and dumped its Vista-only policy for consumer PCs by adding Windows XP as operating option on half-a-dozen machines.

Dell's US store now offers Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional on two Dimension desktops -- the E520 and E521 -- and four Inspiron laptops, the 1405, 1705, 1505 and 1501.

"We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings," Dell said on its Ideas in Action page, a companion to its IdeaStorm site.

IdeaStorm, a site rolled out in February where Dell customers can plead for changes, has been most notable for convincing the Round Rock, Texas company to add Linux as an OS option. The requests for XP started coming a day after IdeaStorm launched.

"I would like to see both Home and Business computers, especially notebooks, have an XP Home and Pro option on top of Vista until it has at least been out for a year," said javaprog07 in the inaugural message on that particular thread.

Earlier this month, Dell decided to add Windows XP on systems sold to its small business customers. At the time, Tom West, Dell's director of small business marketing, said the older operating systems wouldn't be offered to consumers. "Dell does not have plans to launch Windows XP for home users as the preference and demand is for the 'latest and greatest' technology which includes Windows Vista," he said on the Direct2Dell blog.

On Thursday, Lionel Menchaca, Dell's manager of digital media noted the reversal in another blog entry. "After Tom West's post that said Dell would offer Windows XP on systems for small business customers, many Direct2Dell readers have commented or sent e-mails asking us to bring back Windows XP for home users as well. Today, we're doing that."

The new XP option is available only to U.S. customers.

Rival Hewlett-Packard was not available for comment on whether it would answer Dell with a Windows XP option for its consumer customers. HP's small business systems can currently be ordered with either Windows XP Home or XP Professional, as well as Vista Business or Home Basic; the company's consumer PCs, however, are available only with Vista.

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