When Microsoft stopped selling new licenses to Windows XP on June 30, it gave users and PC makers a "downgrade" loophole so that those who wanted XP could still get it, even though they still had to buy a Vista license.
According to data from the exo.performance.network, 35 percent of Vista-equipped PCs have been downgraded to Windows XP. "That's way out of proportion for even the dramatically unpopular Windows Vista," says Randall C. Kennedy, an InfoWorld contributing editor, whose company Devil Mountain Software developed the Windows Sentinel tool and analyzes the exo.performance.network data. (More than 3,000 PCs are monitored worldwide using the tool, in both the free InfoWorld Windows Sentinel version and in the more extensive version provided to Devil Mountain clients.)The idea of a downgrade option is nothing new for enterprise licenses, since it can take several years for large organizations to plan out and deploy significant new software, under schedules that bear no resemblance to a vendor's product schedules. But in a twist of this policy, individual users can also "downgrade" to XP from Vista Business or Ultimate (and later restore Vista if they desire at no extra cost). Most major PC makers offer users the option of downgrading to XP on at least some models, typically those sold to small businesses and gamers.