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New evidence in anti-Microsoft suit strengthens claims that Microsoft purposely put "Vista Capable" stickers on computers not at all ready for Vista

Vista has certainly had its criticisms and struggles, including failing grades from the English school system and the dubious distinction of being named PC World's biggest disappointment of 2007.  However, despite this Vista sales have been moderately successful, despite failing to surpass Windows XP's success

However, a major suit accuses Microsoft of knowingly lying to the consumer to boost these sales.

Across the country retailers carrying various laptops and desktops saw there wares begin to sport "Windows Vista Capable" stickers.  The stickers were part of a campaign my Microsoft to continue sales of Windows XP computers, by citing as a selling point the computer's ability to later be updated to Windows Vista.

The new suit challenges that many of the computers bearing this sticker were by no means fully "Vista Capable" as they were not powerful enough to support Vista's advanced features and would only run the most bare bones installation of Windows Vista.  Further the suit accuses Microsoft of knowing this, and willfully misleading less computer-savvy customers into buying machines under false premises.

On Friday the suit went before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington to determine if the lawsuit merited class-action status and whether Washington law applied.

The plaintiffs were represented by Jeffrey Tilden of Gordon Tilden Thomas & Cordell.  In his opening presentation Tilden quoted internal emails which he had gained access too, in which Microsoft employees stated their concerns about the program, which they felt was inaccurate.

The currently sealed documents includes some zingers.  One employee writes, "Even a piece of junk will qualify" for the "Vista Capable" designation.  Another employee, Mike Nash, currently a corporate vice president for Windows product management, states angrily, "I PERSONALLY got burnt ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."

Jim Allchin, then the co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division writes, "We really botched this ... You guys have to do a better job with our customers."

Tilden hinted that numerous retailers had voiced concerns to Microsoft, and he showcased an email from retail giant Walmart demonstrating such concerns.

David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesman, dismissed the emails as rogue, insignificant snippets and argued that, "The e-mails cited in today's hearing are isolated, and in many instances, outdated and really just snippets of a broad and thorough review that took place during the development of the Windows Vista Capable program."

Bowermaster argued that his company deserved praise, as according to him, "Throughout this review, Microsoft employees raised concerns and addressed issues with the aim of making this program better for our partners and more valuable for consumers. In the end, we believe we achieved both objectives."

He also pointed out that the company had a separate "Premium ready" sticker campaign.  Microsoft lawyer Stephen Rummage, a lawyer with Davis Wright Tremaine, also argued that there was no class for the suit as customers had different levels of information on the requirements needed and that there were plentiful detailed explanations to elucidate these requirements.  He pointed to numerous magazine articles and online sources that helped consumers by dissecting what requirements they needed to run what features.

The plaintiff's attorney countered this argument stating that the class was united in that all individuals buying "Windows Vista Capable" computers "did not get what they paid for."

The hearing concluded with Pechman stating that she would make a ruling within 10 days about whether the suit had class action status and could proceed.




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