Since its retail release in late January, Microsoft's Windows Vista has been the subject of much criticism over its speed, hardware requirements, value for price, compatibility, among other things. As a result, many users and especially businesses have been hesitant to upgrade to Microsoft's latest OS, prompting some PC makers to offer entire lines of PCs with XP pre-installed rather than Vista.

Back in June, Microsoft responded to the angry cries of their customers announcing they would be providing their "top partners" a simplified Vista downgrading process. Now, PC retailers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, and others are providing their customers with a Windows XP downgrade disc for computers that come with Vista Business and Vista Ultimate, if they so choose. What's more, CNet Asia is reporting that Microsoft support will allow anybody with a copy of Vista Ultimate or Business to call and request a downgrade disc themselves.

According to Microsoft's Windows life-cycle policy, direct OEM and retail license availability of Windows XP will cease on January 31, 2008. The company did not give any deadline for downgraded copies of the operating system, however, noting that licenses could be given after the end of the operating system's availability deadline.