A lot of users still don’t getting used to Windows Vista. A lot of reviews have been labeling Windows Vista as bloated, hard to use, tons of compatibility issues, inconvenient, not user friendly, not stable and etc. Unfortunately, Windows XP has been phased out, and now most OEM desktop and notebook computer from brands such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Acer and other shipped and pre-factory installed with Windows Vista rather than Windows XP.

Unfortunately, if you request a legitimate CD installation media or recovery CD/DVD media for Windows XP from the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), you will probably be charged and asked to pay a not tiny sum of money as fee – anything from $50 or above. However, Microsoft does allow user of Windows Vista Ultimate or Business edition to downgrade OEM edition of Windows Vista Business or Ultimate edition to Windows XP Professional without any further or extra charge.

According to Microsoft:

OEM downgrade rights for desktop PC operating systems apply to Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate as stated in the License Terms. Please note, OEM downgrade versions of Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate are limited to Windows XP Professional (including Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Windows XP x64 Edition). End users can use the following media for their downgrade: Volume Licensing media (provided the end user has a Volume Licensing agreement), retail (FPP), or system builder hologram CD (provided the software is acquired in accordance with the Microsoft OEM System Builder License). Use of the downgraded operating system is governed by the Windows Vista Business License Terms, and the end user cannot use both the downgrade operating system and Windows Vista. There are no downgrade rights granted for Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium.

For user who doesn’t want to pay any more payment to OEM brand vendor after paying a hefty price to buy the desktop PC, laptop or notebook computer that comes with Windows Vista Ultimate or Business edition, but want to downgrade to Windows XP, try the following trick to activate Windows XP for free yet legitimate genuine workaround.

  1. Retrieve and record down the product key for the Windows Vista Business or Ultimate edition that is currently installed. There are various tools available for reveal the product key installed in Windows, or you can look at the OEM Certificate of Authenticity sticker pasted on the machine’s casing.
  2. Find a valid legitimate Windows XP Professional setup CD media and install Windows XP on the system. User can use any valid, but not pirated copy of VL media, retail (FPP), or OEM CD such as those coming with old PC.
  3. After installation, log onto Windows.
  4. When asked to activate Windows (or go to “Start” -> “All Programs” -> “System Tools” -> “Activate Windows” or right click on “Computer” and click “Click here to activate Windows”), click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to active Windows now to use automated phone system to activate Windows.
  5. An Installation ID will be displayed on screen in Step 3, together with an option to select the location where user is nearest to in Step 1.
  6. After selecting your country, toll and toll-free phone numbers to call to connect to Microsoft customer care is displayed. Dial to call the corresponding number.
  7. Follow the automated voice recognition and response system to get to talk with a human customer care representative. The phone system will initially require Installation ID to be entered. Just input anything so that after a few failed attempt, user can talk to a human.
  8. Tell the customer care representative that you would like to downgrade from Windows Vista to Windows XP. When asked, give the Windows Vista product key you have and the source of the Windows XP media used to install the machine.
  9. After validation by Microsoft customer care, a Confirmation ID will be given, which should be entered into the Step 4 of “Activate Windows by Phone” wizard to activate Windows proper. If you wish, you can request for a new Windows XP product key too.