Thinking about downgrading to XP?

From Engadget:

As you’ve no doubt noticed, the deadline for the Windows XP downgrade option keeps getting pushed back and back, and it looks like it’s now also getting more and more expensive, as Dell has now tripled the cost of the option on its consumer laptops and desktops to $150. As TG Daily notes, this latest move follows a similar increase to $99 on Dell’s more business-minded Vostro laptops and desktops which, for the time being at least, seem to be remaining as is. Of course, you can always put that $150 towards a Windows XP-equipped netbook instead, which seems to be fast becoming the primary home for the venerable OS.


And you Apple users don’t need to state the obvious.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jim says:

    I switched to a mac about the time Vista came out. I have not regretted it.

  2. jacobus says:

    So expensive these Macs and Windowses are. I use the free Ubuntu.

  3. Will says:

    No, Vista works just fine for me. However, judging by the stuff I’ve read, Windows 7 will be less of a memory hog than Vista, while still improving on stability and security.
    Ubuntu is also a great choice. It’s the closest to a user-friendly environment I’ve ever seen in linux.

  4. Justin says:

    Linux seems to be an increasingly viable option for folks looking to move away from Windows. I’ve been using it for years, and although I don’t frequently use the major distributions anymore (Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian, etc.), it looks like they just keep getting easier to install and use.

  5. KK says:

    So which company is the least objectionable morally? Apple or Microsoft?

  6. Fr. Dismas, OP says:

    Actually, Vista works great and speedily for me, and I used to be a computer tech “in the world.” I know XP is easier in some respects to manage, though.

  7. I’m glad to see you at least recognize it as obvious :-)

  8. Happy Apple User says:


  9. Ed Casey says:

    Dear Friends:

    If you are in the position of having Vista and wanting XP – no worries. Microsoft’s license actually entitles you to a downgrade which is included in most installations. What Dell is doing is shamelessly taking advantage of you to downgrade. And it’s not really more labor for them. What they are doing is simply substituting and XP-imaged hard disk for the Vista-imaged hard disk. It’s not like someone is specially sitting in front of your computer and downgrading it in the factory. So many people are ordering with XP that they have to offer this option, but instead of being cool about it – they’re shaking you down.

    You have options – even in the Windows world. Ask anyone who works in a large corporation whether they have Vista at work. Chances are, unless the company is owned or leveraged by Microsoft, they are running XP on the desktop. Try it. You’ll be astounded.

    If you have an open mind, visit an Apple Computer Store or their website. They do make it really easy to switch – and you’ll never look back. With a program called VM Ware Fusion, you can also run a PC virtually – that is, like a program, on the Mac. It really works great. We’re taking away people’s PC’s who work on Mac too and virtualllizing their PCs on the Mac – it’s very green and quite productive. You can run anything.

    Happy Computing


  10. I think someone should send me a really powerful Apple laptop so that I can have practical rather than merely theoretical knowledge.

  11. Semyon says:

    My new Dell Inspiron Mini was £40.00 off because it came with Ubuntu 8.04 rather than Vista. I knew nothing about Linux having grown up with Mac and Windows but it’s nothing like its geeky reputation. You get OpenOffice which opens anything MS Office can produce and, if you ever have any trouble, there’s an army of public spirited programmers online ready to give you advice.

  12. Charlotte says:

    Microsoft and Apple are BOTH purported to be supporters of Planned Parenthood. But as one of my blogger friends says, use your computer with either platform to spread the news of Christ and the Catholic Church.

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    What venerable OS, Father? No matter what Microsoft calls whichever Windows package, it’s just a glorified file manager – DOS is still the underpinning of all of it.

  14. Charivari Rob says:

    …and I say that as someone who uses only Windows machines!

  15. Will says:

    Rob, that hasn’t been the case since the days of the late, unlamented Windows ME. That was the last release that included MS-DOS.

    Win2000, XP, Vista, 7 and whatever comes next all derive from the Windows NT code base.

  16. dcs says:

    Microsoft as a corporation doesn’t really support any political causes. It is true that Bill Gates does support population control efforts through his “charitable” foundation. Apple, on the other hand….

    And Macs are just painful to support.

  17. BobP says:

    >DOS is still the underpinning of all of it.<

    Actually the Intel Instruction Set. Prior to that, the RISC chip was the basis of the Unix system. Didn’t develop them as fast as Intel did. However, you can’t beat the security of the Unix system. Have Suse and Red Hat installed on my home computers. Hope IBM finally buries the arrogant Microsofts.

  18. They mean upgrading to XP.

    Though even as a Mac switcher for over a year, Vista does not deserve all of the bum rap it gets. Initial problems were mainly third party drivers and the fact that computers that were said to be Vista capable were not. Though User Account Control was certainly badly implemented. A new machine with Vista on it and a good video card and 2 to 3 gigs of ram is just fine, especially if you disable UAC. There are certainly some improvements in Vista.

    Though as someone who makes his living writing Windows software, I much prefer my Mac Pro and OSX Leopard.

  19. Charivari Rob says:

    Thank you for correcting my technical characterizations.

    Between work and home, I’m on machines with Windows packages of varying age (some of them quite old). One of my tests was that even after they changed it from the “DOS Prompt” to the “Command Window”, all the nice long descriptive filenames still had to be boiled down to 8-character DOS filenames (which could be seen in a properties window, as well), and DOS commands. I hadn’t tested that in a long time – I see on my home machine (XP) that even in the command window, long filenames do work.

    “Derive” would be the key word. XP is passable, but my limited experience of other recent Windows packages suggests that they are any closer than a 4th or 5th derivative. XP is the only recent Windows package that approaches the performance and reliability of NT.

    It’s been a long time since I worked on UNIX or VAX systems.

  20. czemike says:

    DOS is still the underpinning of all of it.

    Windows ME was the last of the DOS-based Windows operating systems. Windows 2000, XP, and Vista are all extrapolations of Windows NT, which was originally designed in the image of MVS. It doesn’t matter which operating system you select as they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Mac OS, Windows, Linux, Unix, and AmigaOS all suck, just in different ways and from different points of view. Ultimately it’s just a tool: you pick the one that allows you to get the job done. Emotional attachment is for marriage, not computer science. :-)

  21. I’ve been problem-free since switching to Macs a couple of years ago. I use VMWare when I want to use a Windows app (Microsoft Money). It just works.

  22. T. Chan says:

    Apple did contribute to the no to Prop 8 campaign in CA.

  23. . . . and Bill Gates did donate billions to population control causes. Still waiting for Tom Monaghan to get into the computer biz. :-)

  24. sorry for straying off topic!

  25. Kelly says:

    Regarding the moral issues:

    As a former Windows user who is very happy with his MAC I was upset when Apple did more than contribute to no on Prop 8 in CA. Prior to the election, they placed an almost full page ad on their website explaining why gay marriage is a civil rights issue and should be supported. As for Micorosoft I don’t know.

  26. I’m a software designer and developer. I use both Mac OS X and Vista (and of course used XP and everything since DOS).

    Anyhoo, Macs are not the wondrous panacea that the marketers and the Mac-lovers make them out to be. I really do like my MacBook Pro; it really is smoother in many ways, but if you have to stray outside of the Apple-controlled world of software, beware. Also, I’ve been using Vista since it was in beta. I can count on one hand the blue screens I’ve seen (on multiple machines), but I’m not so sure I can count the number of “kernel panics” I’ve seen on this MacBook that I’ve only had for about six months.

    And to be fair to Microsoft, it doesn’t get to control the hardware it runs on and the vast majority of problems with Windows come from 3rd parties putting out bad software and bad drivers. It surely has problems, but the vast majority of them are outside of Microsoft’s control.

    Folks, software is just really hard, especially something as complex as operating systems, so maybe instead of cursing the software and their makers, how about saying a prayer for us? I know it’s easy to think of the software companies as these big evil corporations, but don’t forget they’re made up of thousands and thousands of people just like you who are really just trying to do a good job.

  27. Matt says:

    Most corporations will hold off upgrading until Windows 7 comes out. It is much easier to support a single OS when multiple programs require testing and deployment. As someone who works in a corporation and did testing on Vista for several months, I am glad that we are still using Windows XP. In our testing we had numerous application compatibility problems (read, many of our coporate apps didn’t work properly on Vista). In addition many of our existing “Vista Capable” machines were laughably slow.

    Since most people on these forums are home users, they have a different set of criteria that help them to decide whether Vista is a *Good* OS or *Better* than Windows XP. Many of the *Better* features in vista were simple re-arrangement of features or minor upgrades to existing applications in Windows XP. Many consumers also like eye candy upgrades in their OS.

    Microsoft itself has completly de-emphasised Vista in all of it’s professional developer conferences. They have all of their focus set on Windows 7. Microsoft badly wants to distance itself from Vista. IF Windows 7 manages to *fix* many of the problems that hindered Vista it will see more enterprise uptake. THIS is where Microsoft makes most of its money. If they manage to bungle it again then many corporations WILL be looking towards linux or the Mac.

    Apple, thanks to Steve Jobs, shot itself in the foot 15 years ago when it decided that it would not license its OS. Had Apple done that, enterprise adoption would have been much greater.

    As to the point of Father Z’s post, Dell is unfairly taking advantage of home users and small businesses without an IT department or the resident technical expert. If you own a copy of Vista in the “Professional” line (Business, Enterprise or Ultimate) you already have license to use any previous version of Windows that is in the Professional NT Kernal line. (NT 4, Windows 2000 Pro or Windows XP Pro) Dell does NOTHING special other than to toss in a VISTA CD into the box. The Windows XP images for the most part are already built and requires a tech to do nothing special.

  28. Ager Flandriae says:

    As a Mac user, I will state the obvious:

  29. Phil (NL) says:

    Ambrose Little: “I can count on one hand the blue screens I’ve seen”

    So can I, as long as I don’t go further back than a week or three. Vista in itself is a lot of show and little if any improvement over XP, and the 64 bit version is rather disasterous – and you can’t really downgrade that either.

    I’d wish Microsoft would build an OS that’s stable instead of ‘user-friendly’. Most ‘user-friendly’ innovations are only a pain because one has to figure out where everything is again, and nothing is so user-unfriendly as a BSoD.

    And don’t get me started about Office 2007 either.

  30. John P. says:

    Father, while I am a pretty faithful Mac user, I don’t go around preaching to the world and telling people how good Macs are. I tell people to buy and/or use whatever they happen to like better. If you like Windows, fine, no big deal. I don’t really hate Vista, but for some people I can understand how it would be very troublesome to use primarily because of the application compatibility, especially with older programs. I also used to own a netbook with Windows XP on it, and discovered that it was just too small for me to use comfortably for typing long school papers, but perhaps that’s just my spoiled self being used to a desktop. Anyway, the computer geek in me is starting to show, so I think I’ll stop my rambling now.

    I think Charlotte stated it best: “use your computer with either platform to spread the news of Christ and the Catholic Church.”

    John P.

  31. Marcin says:

    Forget Win and Mac. Use Linux. Yes, I know MacOS is now build on top of BSD Unix, but it still costs money. And Apple’s hardware is getting more and more brittle, as I keep hearing from my Mac-oriented friends. Plus, Linux makes a user to network for help, and there are legions of people out there ready to help. Think of potential for networking on and off the net. Also for evangelization, why not?

  32. Steve K. says:

    “Apple, thanks to Steve Jobs, shot itself in the foot 15 years ago when it decided that it would not license its OS. Had Apple done that, enterprise adoption would have been much greater.”

    That was the conventional wisdom ca. 10 years ago, but now it looks like the smart move. One of the Mac platform’s strongest advantages is “it just works” – the Mac is more stable and reliable, in large part because Apple tightly controls the hardware and OS. If Apple merely sold the OS to be used on a generic hardware platform, it would be much less reliable. Apple has been very successful since Jobs came back, I don’t think they regret that decision one bit. Jobs himself has commented on this, and he views the Mac’s position in the PC market like the position of Mercedes or BMW in the car market. You don’t need a market-dominance business strategy to have a successful product and good long term viability.

    BTW, 15 years ago the Steve was not at Apple; he didn’t come back until 1997 IIRC.

  33. The other David says:

    I’m happy with Vista. It was frustrating in the beginning to relearn everything, but it is very stable. I’ve had one BSOD on it since I got the computer in 2007.

    XP was a good OS to be sure, and had my other computer not died, I would have kept on with it. But Vista is not as bad as people make it out to be.

  34. momof8 says:

    I am totally confused.. Just ordered a Dell Notebook through the Military exchange, it didnt have a XP downgrade available. Which is what I really did want.

    I have the XP software- hardcopy I had purchased a year or so ago, can I simply buy another key to load it onto the notebook?

    Ive heard horror stories too about Vista, but for simple home-use with minimal additional software, Im thinking that Vista might not be all that bad. Im totally clueless..

  35. Cel says:

    Last year I entered the Church at Easter. Last year I also converted to being a mac user. Now the former conversion is much more significant but I can say that I am quite please with both decisions. It may take time to get there but in the end, the right decision is the right decision.

  36. Will says:

    Momof8, technically, if you’re not using the old install of XP, you should be able to transfer it to the new machine. If you are using it, then yes, you need a new license and key.
    But really, take Vista for a spin — I doubt you’ll really need to downgrade to XP.

    As for my experience with Windows, my all time favorite is Win2000. It’s the OS on this machine and I’ve never, repeat never, had a BSOD on it that wasn’t related to a hardware fault. And that’s in about 5 years.

  37. Didymus says:

    Well, what OS does St Isidore prefer? I assume he would avoid Linux because it is infested with daemons.

  38. “Downgrading” to XP is still worth it IMHO.
    Linux would be great if the Linux community would get their act together and get something a bit more centralized. There’s just too many versions for it to really catch on, overtake Windows, and become the standard.

  39. Andy Brandt says:

    I’m an Apple user myself and I’m quite happy with the software, however I’ll twice before buying anything from Apple again after they have publicly endorsed the “no to 8” campaign in California and gave them $100.000 to help strike down the constitutional amendment there to protect marriage. I think, Father, you should think twice too.

  40. Patrick says:

    Linux is the way forward. The Church worldwide would save $millions in not having to pay for MS or Mac licenses.

  41. Derik says:

    My impression is that how much an OS suck is a function of the user. Some people just don’t know how to maintain a computer. In my case, the right choice for an OS depends on what kind of work is to be done.

  42. Fr. BJ says:

    I tried Ubuntu for a while but could never really figure out how to install new programs. Too confusing, and little automation on that front, so far as I could tell.

    Now I have Vista, and I still have mixed feelings about it. I find the file search feature incredibly tedious: the old XP one was very straightforward. I suppose I could circumvent that problem by downloading Google Desktop or something. Also, I don’t like the way the file folder windows work — I liked the old “up arrow” feature on XP that allowed you to go up a directory. Vista only has the back button and then the confusing command-line-look thing in the address box.

    Also, it seems to me that Vista occasionally has an option to use the “Classic Windows Look” on this or that setting, but I have found that it never really looks or acts the same as it did on Windows XP.

    Finally, apart from Vista, the new version of Microsoft Office, with its completely re-worked menu system and formatting settings, is horrendous. I can’t stand it. I have done the best I can to set the default settings back to what it used to do under Office 2003 (for example, Times New Roman 12, single spacing, etc.). But some things are impossible to circumvent, for example, the page numbering always inserts an extra line below the page number, which one has to manually delete so that it doesn’t force the footer to occupy more space than necessary when the bottom margin is less than 1″). The new menu system is not intuitive at all, and the worst part is that they do not even provide you with the option of using the old drop-down menus. If there is a plugin or something available, I would love to be enlightened about it.

    Still and all, I have no desire to switch to the evil Mac OS.

  43. Phil (NL) says:

    Amen, Fr. BJ!

    “If there is a plugin or something available, I would love to be enlightened about it.” So would I. Many thanks in advance!

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