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Dell prepares for Windows XP's final act

Computer maker will end sales this month of machines factory-downgraded to older OSes to prepare for an October deadline to halt all shipments of XP.

Dell said on Tuesday that it plans later this month to stop selling PCs downgraded to Windows XP, ahead of next month's deadline to stop nearly all shipments of PCs running the older operating system.

Microsoft ended sales of Windows XP some time ago, but has continued to allow PC makers to sell Windows 7 machines that are "factory downgraded" to the older operating system. However, even that option is set to end October 22 for Dell and other PC makers.


"This means that we will stop offering XP as an option for customers starting this month in preparation for next month's deadline," Dell said in a blog post. The company plans to continue offering driver support for Windows XP until December 2012.

Although Microsoft is requiring PC makers to stop selling PCs with Windows XP running, the computer maker has agreed to continue to give customers with Windows 7 Professional the right to downgrade to XP through the entire life cycle of Windows 7. It had originally planned to end that right with the shipment of Windows 7 Service Pack 1--a move that would have meant that companies' right to downgrade machines would have varied from computer to computer.

Volume licensing customers have always had additional options when it comes to running older versions of Windows--including XP. Dell will continue to offer some customers the ability to use a Windows XP image on their corporate computers.

"After the October 22 date, qualified customers will still be able to get systems with Windows XP through Dell's Custom Factory Integration service," the company said.

The nearly decade-old Windows XP has been slowly exiting the stage for some time. Sales of most PCs running XP ended in 2008, although Microsoft allowed sales to continue longer on Netbooks and in some emerging markets, in addition toallowing the downgrade option to continue.

Although it has now been superseded by both Windows Vista and Windows 7, XP remains the most used version of Microsoft's operating system. According to Net Applications, XP is used on three in five computers accessing the Web as compared to Windows 7, which runs on nearly 16 percent of machines and Windows Vista, which is used on 14 percent of computers.