An important update from IDG News Service:

Microsoft will provide hardware partners with media to let theircustomers downgrade from Windows Vista to Windows XP for six monthslonger than it originally planned, the company confirmed Friday.

The move comes even as Microsoft has just launched a US$300 millionmarketing and advertising campaign to encourage people to buy WindowsVista. The company is also prepping Windows 7, the next client versionof the OS, for release in the next 12 to 18 months.

Microsoft will give OS disks to OEMs (original equipmentmanufacturers) and system builders so customers that purchase WindowsVista Ultimate and Business editions can downgrade to XP Professionalif they so choose until July 31, 2009, Microsoft said through itspublic relations firm.

Previously, Microsoft planned to provide the XP recovery disks topartners until Jan. 31, 2009, although there is no deadline fordowngrade rights, the company said. If a customer wants to downgradefrom Vista to XP after the new deadline, they can contact Microsoft fora disk, the company said.

A published report revealed Microsoft’s extension of the XP media deadline early Friday, citing an OEM source.

Microsoft predicted that Vista, which was released on Jan. 31, 2007and took more than five years to develop, would be the most successfullaunch of its Windows client OS. However, Vista has been riddled withglitches and bad publicity, and many businesses and consumers stillprefer XP.