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Microsoft to Simplify Downgrades From Vista to XP 175

Posted by Zonk
from the where-do-you-want-to-go-today-besides-down dept.
castrox writes "Microsoft has noted that many corporate users want to run XP instead of Vista. They are now simplifying the downgrade process for top OEMs. Currently, all OEMs must call Microsoft whenever a downgrade is done. After the new procedure is put into place, OEMs may submit batches of keys to Microsoft online. According to the Microsoft blog on ZDNet, the 'downgrade software' will still need to be supplied by the end user. The deal is rather perplexing — it does not seem like you can convert the license since the only eligible versions for downgrading is Ultimate and Business. The company has more details available in a pdf document online."
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Microsoft to Simplify Downgrades From Vista to XP

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  • by Skevin (16048) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#19692973) Journal
    ...will probably be named:

    Turbo Debuggerer

    Solomon
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      ...will probably be named:

      Turbo Debuggerer
      You think so? My guess is "Sodomizer 2007: Goatse is only the beginning." Next year you will have to upgrade Sodomizer to 2008, even though it's still degrading Vista to XP.
    • by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:56PM (#19693273) Homepage
      Why's it called a down-grade anyway?

      Seems like an up-grade or at least a non-grade to me.
    • Because as the new hardware arrives, drivers for XP will be scarce. This only matters on older corporate computers, not new ones.

      • by poopie (35416)
        Can you find me any hardware that is supported in Vista and *not* in XP?
        • by Qrlx (258924) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:19PM (#19693555) Homepage Journal
          DX10 shaders?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by BESTouff (531293)
            OK, here is my guess: by 2008 DX10 shaders run on WinXP. One way or the other.
            • You're probably right. And it'll probably the last nail in the coffin for Vista. Hackers of the world unite! We must mobilize a program to bring DX10 to XP. If this is done, it will be a serious blow to the MS juggernaut!

              Fire away, more karma than shiva and all that, but for the record, I'm not trolling, I'm predicting what I happen to think is the most likely course of events.
              • by Amouth (879122)
                didn't we already do this?? i seem to remember an artical here that it was done
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by empaler (130732)

                You're probably right. And it'll probably the last nail in the coffin for Vista. Hackers of the world unite! We must mobilize a program to bring DX10 to XP. If this is done, it will be a serious blow to the MS juggernaut!

                Fire away, more karma than shiva and all that, but for the record, I'm not trolling, I'm predicting what I happen to think is the most likely course of events.

                Yeah! Let's show Microsoft, that because their newest OS sucks, WE'LL JUST USE THEIR OLD ONE!


                Erm. That still leaves Windows computers the de facto standard.

                • by TheLink (130905)
                  Laugh, but MS won't think it's funny.

                  Because if everyone continued staying with XP, and eventually Wine or somebody would come up with a decent XP compatible.

                  Then Microsoft would be in danger of becoming like one of those BIOS vendors. They make money sure, but it ain't billions and billions.

                  And it could be hard for Microsoft to break free from "XP Compatible", just like Intel couldn't get people to switch from x86 to the Itanic.

                  Microsoft could (would?) sue of course, but I don't think they want to even go
                • by mav[LAG] (31387)
                  You gotta see the big picture here. It is an event for Microsoft to publicly admit that its latest offering is so bad that they'll help people downgrade. In the past, customers just had to bend over and pretend to like it.

                  Also I can't see a great deal of money coming in from Vista sales this year so Microsoft's numbers won't be that stellar either. This must be why its not spending a great deal of money on channel programmes for Vista. Down here at the tip of Africa, Microsoft has dithered for nearly eight
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Machtyn (759119)
            Rose colored shaders? Not on /.
        • Can you give me a reason why hardware manufacturers will continue to support a dead OS? Economically, it makes no sense and history has shown that it won't take long before XP is officially 'forgotten'.

          And yes, I just ran into this recently. Already some new HP's have no 'offical' XP driver support. In other words, if you want XP drivers, you'll need to go to the OEM sites individually to get them. So yeah, they're out there for now, but it's going to increasingly be a pain in the ass to get at them.
  • by Idaho (12907) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#19692977)
    Because I'd bet that you'll still have the great benefit of paying the hugely inflated prices for Windows Vista (especially the ultimate version) rather than what the XP license used to cost.

    Oh, the joys of working with Microsoft software.
    • by Ryan Amos (16972)
      XP Pro costs the same as Vista Business.
    • by twitter (104583) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:15PM (#19693515) Homepage Journal

      My friends tell me that what the summary reports is accurate:

      it does not seem like you can convert the license since the only eligible versions for downgrading is Ultimate and Business.

      This is true for home users. Your Vista license can not be used for XP, even if you simply upgraded. When you transfer your XP license to Vista, M$ won't give it back to you with their "Please let me use my OS" validation page. So, if you make the mistake of "upgrading" XP to Vista, you will have to buy XP again if you don't like Vista. Let's just say that people have not been happy with that and hope that M$ fixes it real soon.

      Business users, I'm sure, get the usual double M$ tax. They pay the M$ tax when they buy the computer and they pay it again when they buy the OS and actual software, assurance plans and other nonsense.

      • by Joe U (443617)
        So, if you make the mistake of "upgrading" XP to Vista, you will have to buy XP again if you don't like Vista.

        Or, you could just re-install XP and watch it work without any problems. I'm guessing you never tried.
      • by Locutus (9039)
        Boy, it sure sounds like the Microsoft/DOJ settlement did a bad job protecting vendors, businesses, and individuals with using the older version(s) of Windows. IIRC, how Microsoft has forced upgrades in the past was part of the latest DOJ/States vs Microsoft case.

        Nice work Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

        LoB
      • How about this? When you buy a PC with either Vista Home version, call the manufacturer and say you cannot accept the terms of the EULA and want to return Vista for a refund. Use the refund to buy XP home.
        • Easier Plan. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by twitter (104583)

          How about this? When you buy a PC with either Vista Home version, call the manufacturer and say you cannot accept the terms of the EULA and want to return Vista for a refund. Use the refund to buy XP home.

          That would work great, except you will have to spend $100 to get XP, which won't have drivers for your shiny new laptop. With M$, your options are, deal with a buggy Vista install or use preinstalled 7 year old software or don't buy a new computer.

          The only way to know for sure if your hardware is go

    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:30PM (#19693729) Homepage
      "Because I'd bet that you'll still have the great benefit of paying the hugely inflated prices for Windows Vista"

      I'll do whatever it takes to make my business people-ready.
  • Baby steps. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:35PM (#19692999) Journal
    This is a good start. Microsoft had to start somewhere in learning to be responsive to their customers.

    -jcr

    • I'll bet they're shitting rocks now though after pushing so much into this and to see it struggle so much. There is of course the possibility that they are able to just use vista as a stopgap until the next version comes out. Perhaps that's been the plan all along, or at least on the drawing board.
      • by Dan Ost (415913)
        I don't see how they could spin such a move as a good thing. With ME, they simply moved on and nobody really cared except for geeks. With Vista, everybody would be watching.

        Their best bet is to simply fix what they can in SP1 and hope nobody remembers what Vista was originally like (like they did with XP).
    • by TrippTDF (513419)
      It's no start, it's just another business opportunity. Now going BACK to what you had is just another way for MS to make money, as you'll have to pay for the copy of XP along with the Vista license you already have.

      It's almost like the "new coke" thing- make something worse and people will be happy when you give them back the crap they had. Only this time, M$ makes out like a bandit.
  • why don't corporations just install XP?
    • by Knara (9377)
      I suspect this is a red-tape licensing issue not a technical issue. The companies in question probably bought individual Vista Business licenses, found that Vista wasn't gonna work so hot in their environment, and then wanted to use the licenses they already paid for to use XP instead. So now they can do it in batch format instead of having to do individual "downgrades" (so to speak) for every licenses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Serapth (643581)
      In our case, atleast with XP/2000, we were a 2000 shop at the time, but OEMs shipped with XP. So, basically, we would get a computer in, clear it and install 2000 instead. Same deal here, just a generation later. Not really sure what the big deal is though, atleast in Canada, an XP license allowed you to downgrade to 2000, as an Office 2k3 license would permit you to install 2000 if you preferred.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Maybe because Vista has 8 versions that do not map cleanly to XP Home or XP Pro?

        Maybe they should offer a downgrade to Windows ME for the Vista Basic edition.
      • by quanticle (843097)

        an XP license allowed you to downgrade to 2000

        However, 2000 doesn't "phone home" to Microsoft. Apparently, when you try to install XP with a Vista license, it complains, and doesn't let you activate online. You then have to call Microsoft and get that individual license validated for XP. Now Microsoft is allowing you to validate batches of Vista licenses for XP, so you can downgrade across hundreds of computers without having to call Microsoft for each individual box.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      We are talking about non-enterprise customers here who do not have a volume license key. So, they have to wipe Vista off the PC, install XP and activate it. In order to activate it, they need individual keys from the OEM/Microsoft for each system. We have an Enterprise agreement with Microsoft, which makes the process much easier. We just image the new PC with an XP image that has our VLK.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by niceone (992278) *
      why don't corporations just install XP?

      If I read TFA correctly, the deal here is that you are buying Vista, but you get to run XP until you are ready to move the machine to Vista. If you just bought XP you'd have to buy a Vista upgrade later.
  • by amuro98 (461673) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:40PM (#19693069)
    Only Microsoft can make otherwise simple activities into tortorous affairs.

    Why do the companies have to tell Microsoft everytime they "downgrade" a PC from Vista to XP? Does the company receive some sort of credit for being forced to buy an OS they don't want/need?

    Why can't they just buy the PCs with XP already on them without having to uninstall Vista, then re-install XP, then beg for Microsoft's forgiveness, THEN apply all the hundreds of patches - each of which also requires a reboot, and then...
    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:04PM (#19693379) Journal
      "Why can't they just buy the PCs with XP already on them without having to uninstall Vista, then re-install XP, then beg for Microsoft's forgiveness, THEN apply all the hundreds of patches - each of which also requires a reboot, and then..."

      Companies don't do it this way, they use Windows Deployment Services (formerly RIS), and install fully patched and ready to go OS and Applications using PXE boot off the network. Total Tech time (not process time) for a complete (re)install, about 5 minutes (or less). Anyone with more than a handful of machines would benefit from WDS(RIS) setup.

      Right now, when someone complains about "slow computer" or other mysterious problem, I WDS the machine and a few minutes (30-60 mins) later, a fully functioning workstation, with all the standard applications required, and none of the cruftware/crapware.

      It is the only way to go, if Windows is involved.
    • THEN apply all the hundreds of patches - each of which also requires a reboot
      Can you name a single large company that actually does this on each machine rather than using a ghost image? Why would anyone manage their IT this way?

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:40PM (#19693077)
    Is a huge reason we dread getting Vista here. Compatibility isn't too much of an issue, we have been doing preliminary testing and found a reasonable expectation with it to work with our software.

    However, having to set up an activation server, have users log back in every 180 days... is just idiotic.

    If we get audited, we get screwed anyway. So why make it so difficult?
    • by Lxy (80823)
      You have 2 options with corporate licensing. You can either set up a corporate license activation server (as you described, needs to reactivate every 180 days) or you can use a Multiple Activation Key which only forces you to register once.

      The downside to the MAK is that you have to register with MS directly, so you'll need an internet connection after setting up the box.
  • by athloi (1075845) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:49PM (#19693167) Homepage Journal
    For environmental reasons, Microsoft should continue development and support of Windows 2000 and XP. Older machines will keep running longer and so stay out of landfills, and they could eventually give these operating systems away free to benefit the penniless basement-dwellers of the world who keep typing "F1R5T P05T" at the start of every thread.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by secPM_MS (1081961)
      For security reasons alone Win 2K should be killed. XP SP2 and the upcomming XP SP3 are far more secure. Microsoft will be supporting XP with the then current service pack until something like 2013 under extended support, for both enterprises and normal users. Vista is more secure than XP. One of the major advantages of Vista that is not discussed in public is that it is FAR easier to run as a normal user in Vista than it is in XP. This has major security advantages.

      I will shortly be doing the experiment

  • Downgrade? (Score:1, Funny)

    by evil agent (918566)
    I'd consider it an upgrade.
  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:54PM (#19693245)
    but what about the average consumer? My uncle bought a laptop with Vista and it is HORRIBLE. I've tried a couple times to get Best Buy and Toshiba to let him downgrade but they wont. Best Buy just says they dont sell XP anymore and scoffed at me, Toshiba refuses to.

    So if MS is letting businesses do this, can the average consumer call up and say "hey I'll mail you the original CD + key, send me back an XP disc + key"

    • by realmolo (574068)
      You *can* downgrade to XP. But you can only downgrade to *XP Professional*, and you must have purchased either Vista Ultimate or Vista Business in the first place.

      So if you buy Vista Home or Vista Home Premium, you are stuck with them. No downgrades for you.
      • You *can* downgrade to XP. But you can only downgrade to *XP Professional*, and you must have purchased either Vista Ultimate or Vista Business in the first place. So if you buy Vista Home or Vista Home Premium, you are stuck with them. No downgrades for you.

        That's what I've heard [slashdot.org]. Another option is to simply buy a retail copy of XP -$ouch$- but good luck getting all the drivers you need for a new laptop.

        Oh the Joy of the M$ Treadmill.

        Why do I like to use "$" in my messages? Because I like what s

    • by secPM_MS (1081961)
      If you are using marginal HW with Vista, turn off the sidebar and under advanced system properties set it to optimize for performance. This will blow your UI back to a 2K/XP classic look, but it helps a lot. I have been running Vista and LongHorn server beta builds on old HW since pre beta 1 days. As long as you have drivers, you can make it work pretty well. Memory is the most important thing. I will shortly be doing the experiment and trying to convert an old PC to Vista (an old Dell with a 1.7 Ghz P4 th
      • by Nimey (114278)
        OK, but whythehell are you going to upgrade that old P4 to Vista? If you hate your wife and kids that much, do the right thing and just get a divorce.
        • by secPM_MS (1081961)
          Partly as an experiment, partly because as my CFO used to say "you are one cheap bastard". After all, I just had to replace a 12+ year old monitor because it wore out. I know I could run BSD on the system (I was a BSD'er before I joined MS), but my wife and kids want to run software targeted at the windows platform. The real reason to upgrade is the improved security. When you turn off the bells and whistles Vista isn't as demanding as is generally believed. I don't want them running as an administrative us
    • by jbrandv (96371)
      Vista's not that bad. You do have to turn off the nag-ware but after that it is very much like XP. I don't like XP but that's another story. When you can't buy the software anymore, just download a corporate version off of bittorrent or your favorite P2P. If they won't sell it to you just put on an eye-patch and pirate it. Seems to me like that is what they are forcing you to do.
    • You do know that Ubuntu will mail you a disk for free, don't you?
    • by vtcodger (957785)
      ***... but what about the average consumer?***

      Take 'em at their word. They don't want to sell you an XP license. So, do what someone who needs an OS for a 486DX100 with 16MB of RAM does. Either switch to an old version of an Open Source PC Unix of some sort or just pirate the appropriate MS OS and get on with life.

      There comes a point where trying to accomodate stupid becomes more of a burden than reasonable people ought to put up with.

  • When will Microsoft be issuing an apology for Vista? "Yep, Vista is a turd. Our bad."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Eaglehawk (203548)
      Hey, get in line, they need to apologise for DOS 4.0 first...and then Windows ME...
  • You can't use the word perplexing and simple to describe the same thing! A simple way to allow business PC buyers to downgrade is the OEM sells the computer with free dos (making sure the hardware is compatible with XP). There done! Microsoft does not need to get involve with the sale of the hardware. They can deal directly with the customer when it comes time to renew the licensing agreement.
  • University (Score:5, Informative)

    by michrech (468134) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:17PM (#19693531)
    I work for a university in the US -- this doesn't affect us one bit. No matter what the machines come with, we wipe the drive and drop our XP image to it (a lab/classroom image or a faculty image, depending on where the machine will end up).

    When I build the image, any new models we receive have their drivers added to the image with this [vernalex.com] as part of our sysprep. We use Symantec Ghost Solution Suite 2.x (we use the DOS based DeployCenter to actually drop the image from our central imaging server to the workstations). I also have to modify the DeployCenter boot floppy (stored as an .img file that is called by isolinux/syslinux from the UBCD4.0 custom disk I also created) to add the .DOS driver and PCI ID string so the NIC detection works properly.

    I kinda went off topic there, however, the point is we have a MS Campus agreement for ~2000 seats (we are somewhere around 1600 to 1800, actually) for XP/Office2003/Vista/Office2007, so no matter what the computers we order come with, it's wiped and replaced with our own image (without even allowing the OEM drive to do its first boot).

    The only people I see this affecting are businesses that use the machines as they come in, loading software on a one-by-one basis. It won't affect LARGE businesses (or those in the same situation as the university).
  • Summary is Wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by andrewd18 (989408)

    the only eligible versions for downgrading is Ultimate and Business.

    Actually, if you read the PDF, it says this:

    The OEM vesions of Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate include downgrade rights

    It's the Vista Business and Vista Ultimate vesions. Get it right, Slashdot.
  • Upgrade to Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mw13068 (834804) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:38PM (#19693831)
    Downgrade from Vista to XP? Naw, Upgrade to Ubuntu.

    Free Software means never having to tell anyone what you want to run on your computers...
    • by daybot (911557) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:55PM (#19694695)

      Free Software means never having to tell anyone what you want to run on your computers...

      As you have showcased, free software means telling everyone what you run on your computers!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mr. Vage (1084371)
      Gah, Windows, Mac, Linux. What happened to the good ol' days where there was none of this GUI crap. It all just gets in the way. I could type all of my commands way faster than anyone with a mouse could do the same thing. Thats another thing that I can't stand, mice. Who wants to hold something that bears the same name as a nasty animal it their hand? Not me, but the thing that I hate the most about all of these newfangled operating systems is those damn bright, blinding colors. Black and white are the only
  • Vista and XP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PhrankW (1077411)
    I knew Vista might be a bust when Bill Gates told John Stewart on the Daily Show that it would allow parents to more readily monitor their children's onlilne activities. If this was the best sales-point that the marketers at MS could come up with, it wasn't really offering much to the home user. Now it seems it isn't doing much for the pros either. Well, memory of Edsel has been fading, time for something more 21st Century. Phrank
  • So, I've posted this a few times, whenever any of these Vista fumble stories comes out, whether there is actually any type of widespread verdict about the success of Vista (on any level, I know that few people are claiming it is a great technical accomplishment), but no one has really answered yet.

    So are these stories about people preferring XP over Vista a substantial thing, or are they just scattered anecdotes? What is the overall picture?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by robogun (466062)
      I'll add my story to that guy's, however mine involves 2000.

      My four-year-old R40 was dying or so I thought, USB ports falling out & so I figured it was finally time to dive headfirst into the brave new world of WGA Activation and DRM. Also wanted to try out some sexy new .NET 3.0 apps (MS has locked out XP SP1 & below for its new VB language).

      I *scored* a new R60 Core 2 Duo T5500 for less than $500, had XP Pro and Office 2003 preinstalled.

      Well to make a long story short, XP Pro broke half our legacy
  • by jim_deane (63059) on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:57PM (#19694075) Journal

    I was bored and actually READ the licensing information (well, most of it) when I first booted my new Toshiba laptop that came with Vista Home Premium.

    A section in that document specifically stated that THIS license may also be used to run a previous version of Windows, and I think it specifically stated Windows XP and Windows 2000.

    I remember thinking "Well, that's nice to know," but so far have not run into any major Vista problems to worry about.
  • They will be grabbing copies of Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuSe, or any of a myriad of operating systems superior to (and far cheaper than) Vista -or- XP.
  • Farce! (Score:5, Informative)

    by loraksus (171574) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:36PM (#19694503) Homepage
    The Vista downgrade process is horrible beyond words and we've had cases where it would of have been cheaper to buy an oem XP than pay for our time.

    What the current process is - and I have a "manager's manager" (a guy somewhere in North America) on tape with this - is that you install using any legit media and a legit xp cd key.
    Then, when the PC fails activation (which it will, if you've used the same key a few times), you call in, do the song and dance with the crap voice recognition system, talk to an Indian and hopefully* get an activation key.
    This method will no doubt cause us problems in the future with genuine advantage, etc, but there isn't a damn thing we can do about that.

    *I say hopefully because Microsoft reps don't know what the hell they are talking about and different call centers will get you different answers / route you to the wrong people. We've had a call where 2 managers were yelling at each other in Indian in a very heated argument while we sat wondering "wtf". Getting a key normally takes about 2 hours although we've got them in as little as 5 minutes after we've passed through the pointless activation voice system. The process is generally quicker now, although we dread calling. Oh... and we've gotten completely conflicting information - although MS is not supposed to generate xp keys, I've had several keys generated for me (if you bully the female Filipino csrs, they generally do stuff they apparently shouldn't)

    Of course, for customer satisfaction, we've written most of this off - it totals in the thousands of dollars at this point. We've been pleading with Microsoft (we have system builder status, but we usually act as resellers) to get us a better process, because this is a waste of our time, but nothing has happened. False promises, missed deadlines, et al. OEMs were supposed to have a policy in place months ago, but as far as I know, not a single large company (from Seanix to HP to Dell and Lenovo) has the capability for their phone technicians to generate an XP cd key to solve this problem.

    We're especially hit hard because we mainly deal with small businesses - usually under 75 people (we're in a fairly small town, so those businesses have slowly grown to get that "big"). If our customers were bigger, they'd use volume license agreements. As it is, they don't and we can't exactly say "fuck it" and install a corp edition w/ a wga crack which is what I've heard some of the smaller companies around here are doing.

    Furthermore, I worked for Vista support for a few weeks during the rollout (if anyone wants a shitty, low paying job, head up to Sutherland in Vernon, BC) nobody knew what they were doing and we got conflicting information during training. When we were sitting on the line during the downgrade process, none of the indian csrs knew what was going on.
    From what I understand from my contacts there, nothing has changed.

    I'm assuming that Microsoft can reach all their outsourced call centers and provide them with the correct information (they have a centralized call logging application).
    The fact is that that they have had several months and they haven't. CSRs are still giving out bad info and managers still have no idea what the hell the process is.
    I don't want to say that Microsoft is intentionally making the process difficult, but I can't see any other explanation except for mass incompetence.
    I know for sure that we haven't heard the good news or the new process yet... Maybe people in Canuckistan have to wait a bit for the news to filter down...
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:16PM (#19694887)
    I propose that Slashdot add a category for 'downgrade'. They have one for 'upgrade' so why not 'downgrade'?
  • I found this buried in the article:

    Microsoft doesn't view the popularity of user requests to downgrade from Vista to XP as a ding against Vista, Ball emphasized. In fact, at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver in July, Microsoft plans to evanglize Vista to its OEM and system-builder partners, and play up Vista's momentum as proof that system vendors should get on the Vista bandwagon, Ball said.

    In other words:
    Q: Is the huge demand for XP at the same price as Vista an indication that there is something wrong with your new product?
    A: No, we just have to show the OEMs and system builders that it's value-adding features that're scaring the end-users away.

    Er, what, now?

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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