Dell to Sell XP after June 30, Microsoft to Pretend They're Selling Vista to Save FaceS

While we've heard Microsoft hint at keeping XP on store shelves longer than they initially stated due to the, well, boatload of people who want nothing to do with Vista, Dell is the first retailer to confirm having plans to sell the faithful ol' OS past the end of June. But it isn't because Microsoft's gone and changed their policy; it's because Dell is taking advantage of a loophole in Vista licensing that lets Microsoft pad their Vista numbers even when people avoid it like the plague.

Dell will take advantage of a licensing option in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate that lets PC makers provide XP under the Vista license, which Microsoft calls a "downgrade" license. (Enterprises with site licenses have these same rights with any version of Vista.) In essence, the user is buying a Vista license that it can apply to XP, and Microsoft can still claim a Vista sale.

This is all well and good for people who want to buy a new PC with XP instead of Vista, but in what universe is Microsoft able to claim a Vista sale with this? That's some shady bookkeeping if I've ever seen it. That means if Dell sells way more machines with this "downgrade" option than with Vista, Microsoft can still claim that people are adopting Vista in droves.

But hey, it'll keep XP available for people who want it, so I guess it's a good thing no matter what kind of maneuvering it entails. But it just goes to show that you can never trust sales figures tossed out by marketing departments. [PC World]