Dell said on Tuesday that it plans later this month to stop selling PCs downgraded to Windows XP, ahead of next month's deadline to stop nearly all shipments of PCs running the older operating system.

Microsoft ended sales of Windows XP some time ago, but has continued to allow PC makers to sell Windows 7 machines that are "factory downgraded" to the older operating system. However, even that option is set to end October 22 for Dell and other PC makers.

"This means that we will stop offering XP as an option for customers starting this month in preparation for next month's deadline," Dell said in a blog post. The company plans to continue offering driver support for Windows XP until December 2012.

Although Microsoft is requiring PC makers to stop selling PCs with Windows XP running, the computer maker has agreed to continue to give customers with Windows 7 Professional the right to downgrade to XP through the entire life cycle of Windows 7. It had originally planned to end that right with the shipment of Windows 7 Service Pack 1--a move that would have meant that companies' right to downgrade machines would have varied from computer to computer.

Volume licensing customers have always had additional options when it comes to running older versions of Windows--including XP. Dell will continue to offer some customers the ability to use a Windows XP image on their corporate computers.

Full story: c|net