Steve Ballmer kicked up a little dirt last week when he said that Microsoft could "wake up smarter" and keep selling XP after the June 30 cutoff date if customer feedback demanded it, but as you'd expect, the company is busily trying to "clarify" that statement by saying that while it always listens to customers, XP is definitely going to die on the 30th. Well, apart from the ultraportable exception that'll last until 2012 or so. And the backlog of licenses still in reseller's hands. Oh, and a little company called Dell, which, as rumored, is going to take advantage of a Vista licensing loophole that allows it to sell a copy of Vista but preload XP instead. Yep, that's the plan -- Dell's going to report a Vista sale to Microsoft, but deliver an XP box with Vista upgrade DVD to customers. (That sound you just heard was a million accountants sighing in appreciation.) The program will be available for Latitude, OptiPlex, Precision, Vostro, and XPS systems (some with a minor fee), and Dell says it'll keep going as long as Microsoft supports the "downgrade" license option, which could be forever. Looks like June 30 just got a lot less scary for XP fans, no?

Read - Microsoft clarification of Ballmer's comments
Read - Dell to keep selling XP