Have it your way: Dell makes Windows Vista and Windows XP available

It has been a busy week, and between catching up at work and a backlog of email, sick kids and just about everything else that eats up one’s time.

This from the “listen and respond to your customer” file: Jessica Mintz of the Associated Press reports that Dell announced that they will let buyers choose between Microsoft’s older OS and Vista. Dell maintains a good subsite on Windows Vista, off of their main website, that covers the four Vista options to choose from, “depending on your system configurations and what you would like to do with your PC.” (Dell also offers their own assessment page, to see if yoru current PC is ready for Vista, available here). The Seattle Times discusses this in their techtracks blog and notes that “Microsoft can’t be thrilled.”   

Why is this so surprising?

I know of a few families not ready to make the move to Windows Vista, given that the majjority of machines in their home and at the office are running Windows XP SP2. IMHO, the ability to purchase a new machine with the latest technology and the OS that they are most familiar may be a good option for some families: it allows them to support one OS and ease into Vista. In our own home, we haven’t found the need to upgrade our machines as Windows XP generally meets the needs and the bulk of what our family does at home: Internet access, educational software, word processing, spreadsheets and (of course) games. (Lately, there has been more video viewing and Zune subscription content management.)

On the flip side, we are a mixed OS household environment with Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista (as well as a lone legacy Apple Macintosh laptop and an old desktop Macintosh, which now sit in our storage closet), and we’re doing fairly well. I also bring home and roam on our network at home with my work Vista-powered Tablet PC, and haven’t had any isses: I’m able to share files, network printers and connection to the Internet.

In fact, I’m considering the move on our remaining Windows XP machines to Vista… but only as I have time to make the migration, and upgrade RAM; although 1GB is installed on these machines now, I’d upgrade both machines to 2GB. Upgrading machines will also mean upgrading hardware (where possible), such as video cards; laptops will be constrained to the on-board video card memory we have today (32MB Radeon cards) — fine for most general applications. This will take time and effort that I’m just not ready to invest, at leasts not until my next vacation 😉 nor is it clear what the benefit would be for the machines, which are predominantly used by our kids today.

But all said, my soon to be 9-year-old announced that “Vista is cool” and he wants it on his machine. As Jim noted in a previous post, the security features in Windows Vista can be locked down through the new parental controls…

“In fact, parental controls in Windows Vista requires that the user you apply controls to is not running as an administrator. Email, phishing, and other social engineering attacks are definitely among the most prevalent attacks that home users experience today, and his machine has been locked down in these regards.”

That alone may be worth the investment in Vista… that and a new GB of memory.

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