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Microsoft: Buy Vista, fight AIDS in Africa

The software maker introduces a boxed version of its Product Red edition of the operating system, previously available only on select Dell machines.

It's probably not enough of a selling point to make buyers out of the operating system's critics, but Microsoft will start selling boxed copies of Windows Vista in a Product Red edition.

The Red version of Vista, which had been sold only as part of Dell PCs, will now also be available in boxed form. Product Red

Starting later this month, customers will be able to purchase Windows Vista Ultimate in a version that offers some proceeds to Product Red, a charity that works to fight AIDS in Africa.

The Windows version is not entirely new, having been sold on several models of Dell PCs since early this year. In addition to providing some cash to the AIDS charity, the Red version of Vista also includes some specially themed wallpaper and sidebar gadgets.

Last month, Microsoft also helped Product Red launch RedWire, an online music venture.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was an early backer of the Red effort, but it took a while for the software company to join it. It was beaten to the punch by Apple, which has offered a Product Red iPod Nano for several generations.

Red is not the first special color in which Vista has come. In Japan, Microsoft sold a pink-boxed bundle of Vista and Office.

As a colleague pointed out, the move to offer the red-themed Vista was presaged in a cartoon mocking Vista for its many editions.