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Microsoft grabs a break while appeal awaits decision

The little sticker that hung on machines following the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system added a little more weight to the already heavy company litigation boat. It looks like Microsoft will get a chance to lighten the load a little with the recent decision by Judge Marsha Pechman to put the case on hold while Microsoft challenges the class-action status of the suit.

The “Windows Vista Capable” sticker caused quite a commotion, falsely leading people to believe they would be able to run any version of Vista on their machines. The lawsuit, filed by two individuals, covers that fact that only Windows Vista Home Basic was able to run on “Vista Capable” machine, giving false hope to those who wanted to run the Aero interface.

Following Pechman’s decision to allow the case to move forward as class action, Microsoft appealed. The software behemoth questioned the focus on the sticker claiming that people should already know what sort of hardware they need in order to run Windows Vista Home Premium. 

The appeal was brought forth when Microsoft questioned whether the case was even able to be decided by Washington courts since the suit came from an individual who did not actually reside in Washington.   Judge Pechman decided to stay the case when the plaintiffs requested to continue discovery, allowing Microsoft some breathing room until the issue is take care of.

Microsoft started taking a heavy beating when emails were discovered from the company’s top staff discussing the problems involving the sticker. While the case is on hold, Microsoft should pray no more information is brought forth against them with discovery not yet complete.

The case is currently awaiting a decision by the Ninth Circuit to rule on the appeal.



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Burned
By AntiM on 4/9/2008 2:58:46 PM , Rating: 1
I think MS might get burned on this one. Aside from the jurisdiction issues, they're basically saying that if you weren't so dumb, you would have known the difference between "Ready" and "Capable".




RE: Burned
By MrPickins on 4/9/2008 3:02:13 PM , Rating: 5
Or maybe they were saying that people should have read the system requirements printed on the Vista packaging or on MS's website.


RE: Burned
By System48 on 4/9/2008 3:08:42 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. All PC's on the market before May of last year would have been branded as "Vista Basic" anyways, basic = doesn't have to meet requirements for aero. All this is a little retarded since they are essentially complaining about not getting transparency or the new flip 3D which is UI candy not a real function.


RE: Burned
By omnicronx on 4/9/2008 3:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, something of the sort has been on the Windows site for a long time.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsv...


RE: Burned
By nolisi on 4/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: Burned
By nolisi on 4/9/2008 3:59:06 PM , Rating: 4
Just as an addendum- this is the problem with most technical people. Just because they have daily experience and strong understanding with computers- they have absolutely no idea or understanding that others may not know what they know.

Where the general population is dumb about technology, most techies seem to be perpetually dumb about people.


RE: Burned
By omnicronx on 4/9/2008 4:33:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Just as an addendum- this is the problem with most technical people. Just because they have daily experience and strong understanding with computers- they have absolutely no idea or understanding that others may not know what they know.
Excuse me, but its your job as a consumer to do the required research into a product that you are going to buy. If you do not think you can make an informed decision, ask someone who knows what they are talking about, plain and simple.

I do not see how this is any different when buying just about any product, whether it be car, house, computer or any big purchase that you are making.


RE: Burned
By imperator3733 on 4/9/2008 8:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Excuse me, but its your job as a consumer to do the required research into a product that you are going to buy. If you do not think you can make an informed decision, ask someone who knows what they are talking about, plain and simple.

Exactly. People need to research what they are buying. It's just like when you are looking to buy other consumer related products.


RE: Burned
By Oregonian2 on 4/9/2008 8:02:38 PM , Rating: 3
Interesting concept.

Making "lowest common denominator" the legally required way to do things.

Seems that it could lead to class action lawsuits on behalf of any student who does not get an 'A' grade inasmuch lectures in class were not understood by the dumbest people in the class and therefore it's the school's fault for making statements that are not understandable by all. Note too that studying is not to be required for classes, just like it's apparently not for stickers that talk about a third party's (uSoft) product.


RE: Burned
By epsilonparadox on 4/10/2008 10:51:32 AM , Rating: 3
So would it be feasible for me to sue Honda because I can't put the Type R engine from the Acura Integra into my Civic? After all, the Integra's the premium version of the Civic and everything should be interchangeable. It isn't the case because even if possible, a simple engine swap would destroy the Civic. The Type R required different parts to run optimally and these parts are built into the Integra.

MS released the different versions of Vista because of the different price classes of PCs. You have Vista Basic, the Civic, and you want to run Aero, Type R engine, then you'll need to upgrade your PC, the additional parts of the car, to handle the new function.


RE: Burned
By mollick2 on 4/9/2008 7:58:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Given that you can walk into Best Buy or Circuit City and get bad info from the sales monkey on what the sticker means (I've heard some really great bits of misinfo from these people).


Exactly. Why should Microsoft be held responsible for a salesman mis interpreting the sticker and giving the end user bad info?

If aero and the rest of the eye candy only runs on premium or better versions of vista and there is a "Premium Ready" sticker why the hell would microsoft have "Vista Capable" stickers that would mean the same thing?


RE: Burned
By ttucker99 on 4/10/2008 12:57:48 AM , Rating: 2
Part of the problem is that emails surfaced from a VP at Microsoft who purchased a "Vista Capable" PC and could not run Vista with anything turned on. Reading the email it was obvious Microsoft was willing to put the stickers on any machine that could boot with Vista if the manufacturer (I think HP) was willing to load Vista exclusively on that line of computers.


RE: Burned
By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 9:27:20 AM , Rating: 3
All that proves is that a certain MS executive is an idiot. His claims that his $2000 machine was useless for anything other then checking email leads me to conclude:

1) The guy is a complete idiot and doesn't have a clue what he actual bought
2) He bought an ultra portable system, which typical do come with weak cpu and graphics.. and are not good for much other then typing documents and checking email.

Anything other then an ultra portable bought for $2000 at the time would have run Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, Business, or Premium no problem.


RE: Burned
By Some1ne on 4/9/2008 3:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
they're basically saying that if you weren't so dumb, you would have known the difference between "Ready" and "Capable".


The problem is that that isn't really the issue. The issue is that there are two possible connotations of the word "Capable" in the phrase "Windows Vista Capable". The first connotation is to assume that it means "this PC is capable of running Vista in some incarnation", which is clearly what MS meant with its label. The second interpretation, however, is to assume that it means "this PC runs Vista capably", which implies that not only can the PC run Vista, but it can run it well. This is how a lot of consumers have interpreted the label.

So the core issue will probably be whether or not it is reasonable to construe a label that says "Windows Vista Capable" as meaning "this PC runs Vista capably". If it is, then MS may have a difficult time getting off the hook, even though they probbaly didn't intend to be misleading like that.


RE: Burned
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/9/2008 4:26:04 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The first connotation is to assume that it means "this PC is capable of running Vista in some incarnation", which is clearly what MS meant with its label. The second interpretation, however, is to assume that it means "this PC runs Vista capably", which implies that not only can the PC run Vista, but it can run it well. This is how a lot of consumers have interpreted the label.

I think your splitting hairs here and this is the basis of the lawsuit. I don't think it will really hold up well in a court room.


RE: Burned
By Solandri on 4/9/2008 10:23:12 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
quote:
quote:
The first connotation is to assume that it means "this PC is capable of running Vista in some incarnation", which is clearly what MS meant with its label. The second interpretation, however, is to assume that it means "this PC runs Vista capably", which implies that not only can the PC run Vista, but it can run it well. This is how a lot of consumers have interpreted the label.
I think your splitting hairs here and this is the basis of the lawsuit. I don't think it will really hold up well in a court room.

I think this is more an example of how marketspeak has corrupted our language to disguise meaningless claims as bold-sounding statements. Once upon a time, the second definition of "capable" was probably the commonly accepted definition. But through decades of marketing, it's gotten to the point where we now assume the first definition whenever we see the word.

I could probably get Vista to run on an ancient 800 MHz celeron with 512 MB of RAM. Saying a computer is (definition 1) "capable of running Vista" is a useless statement, logically true on a technicality and exploited by marketers for that reason. Kind of like how "minimum requirements" has become so skewed that most people just ignore it now.

Taken literally, I agree with you that this lawsuit is silly. But part of me wants it to go forward in hopes it will rein in the abuse of our language by marketers. I'd much rather we return to a world where if a product is advertised as able to do something, it implicitly means it's able to do that something halfway decently; not that it'll do it but you'll want to shoot yourself while waiting for it to finish.


RE: Burned
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/9/2008 4:21:53 PM , Rating: 3
I still don't see how this is Microsoft's fault. The OEMs were the ones slapping the stickers on the cases. They were all doing it because they were afraid that people would stop buying PCs while they waited for Vista to come out.

I also disagree that they can complain about Vista Basic not being Vista. If it can run Vista Basic, that pretty much proves that it was Vista Capable.


RE: Burned
By Pirks on 4/9/2008 6:13:30 PM , Rating: 2
MS fault lies in their inability to adapt to mass cosnumer as well as Apple does. Mass consumer is DUMB and wants DEAD EASY and DEAD SIMPLE interface and information everywhere.

The age of techies and overclockers ruling this world is over, now dummies (AKA common folk or Average Joe) rule the computer world.

I hope MS understands that BEFORE they release Windows 7, or else they gonna get it up their hole once again from all those angry dummies who now constitute the majority of consumers.


RE: Burned
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/10/2008 1:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but MS didn't tell the people that their PC was "Vista Capable", the company that built it decided if it deserved a sticker or not.

If their Lawyer manages to prove that Vista Basic doesn't count as Vista, then it is still the OEMs fault for deciding that crappy PCs get a sticker too.


Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By Segerstein on 4/9/2008 3:02:41 PM , Rating: 3
Come on, guys, you act as you have never heard of "Windows Vista Premium Ready PC"!!!

A Windows Vista Capable PC includes
* A modern processor (at least 800MHz¹).
* 512 MB of system memory.
* A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.

And this machine will run Vista. IT WILL RUN VISTA. IT IS CAPABLE OF RUNNING VISTA!!!

Windows Vista Premium Ready PCs
Some Windows Vista Capable PCs have been designated Premium Ready. These PCs will provide an even better Windows Vista experience, including the Windows Aero user experience. Features available in specific premium editions of Windows Vista, such as the ability to watch and record live TV, may require additional hardware.

A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:
* 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor¹).
* 1 GB of system memory.
* Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)², Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
* 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space.
* DVD-ROM Drive³.
* Audio output capability.
* Internet access capability.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsv...




RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By JBird7986 on 4/9/2008 3:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
Moreover, the sticker with the Vista Capable claim clearly shows that although it is capable of running Vista, it is still "Designed for Windows XP."


By Pembo210 on 4/9/2008 5:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Moreover, the sticker with the Vista Capable claim clearly shows that although it is capable of running Vista, it is still "Designed for Windows XP."


YESSSS!!!!! Thank you!!!!!


By imperator3733 on 4/9/2008 8:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. I hadn't remembered that, but its an important point.


RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By tdawg on 4/9/2008 4:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure this type of information was on display at PC outlets when the Vista campaign kicked off with these labels. This information wasn't hidden from the public eye; this lawsuit needs to disappear.


RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By InternetGeek on 4/9/2008 7:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
Though I agree with you 100% the problem is that the description doesn't imply, at least for a layman, that a Windows Vista Capable PC would run Aero.

It's like in a mathematics problem when you cannot assume something because it is not stated as a fact. The only safe option is not to assume it... unless you can demonstrate it. Marketting language is made to cause a positive impression so you could be lead into believing it will run aero.

I remember reading the descriptions of all the versions of vista and I was sure, as a geek, that you needed the best hardware. I also assumed vista might not run perfectly until SP1. So I went with the best laptop I could get then (1gig, 512meg video card, 160gb, etc). It still runs Ultimate with all the bells and whistles and got better after SP1.

The problem is that not everyone can grasp all the versions and how do they map onto the hardware they require. And on this point allow me to play with the definition of requirement. There are minimum requirements, there are recommended requirements and there are Your Requirements. You Requirements let you flawlessly use all the software you want. As geeks we know this. Civilians are more cost-oriented and will get whatever the recommendation is or just the cheapest option hoping the OEM/Store did their homework.

We all critised MS for coming up with all those versions of vista. And they gave up to OEM pressure by creating the capable sticker. I think MS did their homework explaining the versions but still people got them wrong because it is a bit hard trying to find out the actual limitations of the systems required for the different versions of vista. Limitations as in "runs vista's core components but not aero". Given that OSX looks so nice, MS should have stepped up the importance of Aero.

It seems lately we should assumen a feature is NOT provided if the manufacturer doesn't say he uses it. Even if the hardware is capable of doing something, if there's no software it's better not to assume it will actually do it. Take Apple (charging for every new feature in the iPhone if only because of GAAP) and HTC for instance (touting the hardware but not including the software to use it).

My message to civilians is this: If you can't afford a better hardware today, save fort 3-4 months more and buy something better. A cheap economy today does not provide lasting value for your budget (or at least as much as technology lasts).

0.02


RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By imperator3733 on 4/9/2008 8:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
Excellent points. I agree with pretty much everything that you said.

Your post was the first time that I had ever heard of non-geeks being refered to as civilians. Good choice.


By InternetGeek on 4/9/2008 9:44:37 PM , Rating: 2
hehe, I got it from Reservoir Dogs. I think Harvey Keitel calls them civilians, but then someone else separates Policemen and Robbers from "Real People".


RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By Belard on 4/9/08, Rating: -1
RE: Windows Vista Premium Ready PC
By Belard on 4/10/2008 3:20:03 PM , Rating: 1
No respectable tech, programmer, etc thinks that vista is actually an improvement.

Just the geeks that are impressed with transparents backgrounds... which have been around for years on Linux and Amigas for years. Remember folks, it took the great talented folks at Microsoft 10 years to develop (buy/cheat/etc)Windows95 with actual multitasking abilities that the Amiga had since 1985. Yeah, in the 80s and early 90s, I could and DID print out pages, formatted or copied data to floppies without the system going slo-mo... things that all Windows9x couldn't even handle... oh well.

Vista is still crap. Its 2-3GB RAM requirements is proof of that.

I guess what would make Windows7 (er, 6 - since Vista is really nothing more Windows 5.2, maybe a 5.5) run okay in 2 years when everyone has a 3Ghz Quad core CPU or better.


why is all the blame on MS?
By omnicronx on 4/9/2008 3:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one here that thinks the actual manufacturer is at fault here? A PC hardware vendor must test its products before shipping it out, don't they? I feel the manufacturers merely posted stickers on every product that met minimum requirements of Vista. Microsoft did not sell you your PC's! Dell, HP and whoever else you bought your PC from did!

Its my opinion that if the manufacturers knew that their Vista Ready PC's were not up to snuff(and if they did not they should get out of the business stat), they should not have labbeled it so in the first place as in the end, the customer complaints will come to them, not microsoft.

Microsoft probably should have had higher minimum specifications don't get me wrong, but not unlike every video game on the market, sure you can run it, but how well.




RE: why is all the blame on MS?
By drzoo2 on 4/9/2008 4:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
The reason your the only one is while the Dells and HPs of the world could complain. Who are they going to complain to?. If Microsoft decides to pull their licenses with an OEM that company is now out of luck. OEMs do what they are told by Microsoft....period. When there is only one vendor that sells a widget that cannot be second sourced they pretty much dictate to their customers how things are going to work. You won't put the sticker on. Fine. Sell Linux to your consumers and see if your shareholders like the new share price.

Z


RE: why is all the blame on MS?
By omnicronx on 4/9/2008 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If Microsoft decides to pull their licenses with an OEM that company is now out of luck.
Except that its probably against the law haha. Need I remind you of the Dell/Intel fiasco?


RE: why is all the blame on MS?
By ok630 on 4/13/2008 4:32:51 AM , Rating: 1

Die painfully okay? Prefearbly by getting crushed to death in a garbage compactor, by getting your face cut to ribbons with a pocketknife, your head cracked open with a baseball bat, your stomach sliced open and your entrails spilled out, and your eyeballs ripped out of their sockets. Fucking bitch


RE: why is all the blame on MS?
By MScrip on 4/9/2008 4:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I'm sure all the Vista PCs that Dell built ran well... until they added all the Earthlink and AOL trials, Dell Support Agent, Dell Diagnostics Agent, and all the other crappy background tray applications that launch at startup.

If you're the kind of person who notices these types of problems with Vista... you're probably able to add RAM yourself and install a clean copy of Vista anyway.

Blame Dell and HP for selling systems loaded with their crapware.


By rgsaunders on 4/9/2008 8:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, a little research shows that Intel shares part of the blame for pressuring MS to downgrade the criteria so that they could clear out their inventory of 915 chipsets. This is referred to in the internal MS emails that have been referenced several times in the discussion of this topic. However, MS bears the larger responsibility for yielding to this.


Not sure
By AlphaVirus on 4/9/2008 3:02:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The software behemoth questioned the focus on the sticker claiming that people should already know what sort of hardware they need in order to run Windows Vista Home Premium.

I am not sure what MS was thinking when they made this claim but if they would have said Vista Home Basic, then none of this would be happening.

Although many have come to like and love Vista, from its debute I do not think Premium could have ran on a Celeron+512mb ram+IGP.

I also find it compelling they are fighting MS and not HP, Dell, Acer, etc because I am sure they had some sort of specs to follow. I think if they release that information there would be a little more concrete information as to what "Vista Home Premium minimum specs" are.

This is actually one time I hope MS wins unless those minimum specs are released; I think this is a pointless case.




RE: Not sure
By bobdeer1965 on 4/9/2008 3:37:07 PM , Rating: 4
Whats weird is that people are saying "Vista is garbage" OR "Vista is the new ME" and all sorts of other stupid things. They continue be saying how good XP is. Make up your mind. If you have XP now JUST USE IT. It works great!

BUT. Now we have people who WANT to run Vista on a slow computer. Come on people. How do you function in life. You buy the cheapest computer you can find then complain. Didn't you wonder for even a second why there are more expensive models????????

THROW IT OUT!!!

Let the idiots learn from their own mistakes.
History will repeat itself.
Once an idiot always an idiot.
After all nobdy should have to research anything or be responsible for their actions or purchasing decisions. Why should they. They just SUE to try to fix their bad decisions later when they realize how much of an idiot they were.

These people need to get a life.


RE: Not sure
By imperator3733 on 4/9/2008 8:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
Vista Premium Ready specs:
1 GHz CPU
1 GB RAM
DX9 GPU with 128+ MB RAM and PS 2.0
40 GB HDD with 15 GB free
DVD-ROM drive
Audio output capability
Internet access capability

(http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsv...


HD-Ready
By rADo2 on 4/9/2008 4:51:18 PM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of "HD-Ready" versus "Full-HD". How many customers bought extremely expensive "HD-Ready" TVs, that are not able to play 1080p? Billions?




RE: HD-Ready
By darkpaw on 4/9/2008 4:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing wrong with 720p or 1080i, they are both true HD formats.

EDTV on early plasma/lcd screens now that was a scam.


This needs to get tossed
By darkpaw on 4/9/2008 2:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
I really hope the appeals court tosses this case out. Was the program dumb? Yup, but every single one of those laptops listed as being Vista "Capable" is perfectly capable of running Vista. Maybe not all that well, but Windows 95 sure didn't run all that well with 4mb of RAM either.

These stupid class action law suits really need to be dismissed sooner. Save the legal system for addressing real wrongs, not making lawyers major bucks for stickers on old hardware and people complaining they can't buy more expensive software to run on the cheapest system they could possibly buy.




Seriously...
By Evocati on 4/9/2008 5:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
As I recall, you rarely win this kind of case when you use your own ignorance as a prosecution tactic.




I smell a similar lawsuit...
By MrWho on 4/10/2008 3:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it the same as the "HD Ready" and "Full HD" seen on LCD TV sets and monitors? Although I agree to the MS lawsuit to a certain extent, I think these two stickers are as misleading, if not even more, as the ones regarding Windows Vista...




Perception
By Procurion on 4/10/2008 11:22:27 AM , Rating: 2
It isn't hard to figure out, really. The lawsuit is about deceptive practices. To parse everything here as an informed group is not what the lawsuit is about. It is about Joe Blow walking into the store and buying a computer that he is assured is capable of doing a job.

If you walked onto a car lot and saw an exotic car with a "X12-9455" racing engine and decals with "Indy 500 capable" all over it, what would you think? That it can go as fast as 35mph? No, you'll be thinking 200mph. Do you know what kind of engine it has? Of course, it's an "X12-9455" racing motor...but wait! That is a lawnmower engine! Sure, that car can go onto the track at Indianapolis and make a lap. Is it really "capable" as you are being led to believe?

That is what this case is about. Even if they did not explicitly say it, to deliberately promote a perception that is false leaves Microsoft vulnerable to legal action.




"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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