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HP Pushes Windows 7 for Home PCs, Microsoft's Buttons

One of Microsoft's biggest OEM partners has gone off the reservation when it comes to marketing Windows PCs to end users.

At least since this weekend, Hewlett-Packard has been pitching Windows 7, rather than Microsoft's officially encouraged Windows 8, to end users. 

HP's main U.S. homepage features a promotion of Windows 7-based PCs with the headline, "Back by popular demand."

"Customize a new HP PC with Windows 7 and save up to $150 instantly," the HP promotion continues. Clicking the "Tell me more" button brings up an HP Home & Home Office Store site with five systems listed. The systems and their starting prices are an HP Pavilion 500-205t Desktop PC for $480, an HP ENVY 700-215xt Desktop PC for $700, an HP Pavilion 15t-n200 Notebook PC for $600, an HP ENVY 15t-j100 Quad Edition Notebook PC for $780 and an HP ENVY Phoenix 810-135qe Desktop PC for $1,000.

For corporate customers, Microsoft and PC manufacturers for years have offered the option of "downgrade rights" -- loading the previous operating system on new systems years after the current OS has come out. The move is a nod to corporate IT's need for control, consistency and extra security. (And partners RCP talks to report that a vanishingly small proportion of enterprise customers migrating desktops from Windows XP are going to Windows 8, with the vast majority moving to Windows 7.)

However, this downgrade trick is less known by consumers. Microsoft regularly creates momentum for new versions of Windows by forcing all end users who buy systems on their own to take the newest code.

Yet lately, drops in PC sales are leaving Microsoft with much less power to dictate terms to OEMs. Meanwhile, home users, especially those trying to use Windows 8 on non-touch systems, have demonstrated a lukewarm reaction to Windows 8's tile-based interface.

The phrasing of HP's promotion alone is something of an insult to Windows 8, implying that the public wants Windows 7 back. Rather than being offended, Microsoft will presumably be grateful if HP's promotion drives any new Windows-based sales.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 21, 2014 at 11:54 AM