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A lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging it intentionally deceived by labeling underpowered PCs "Vista Capable" wins class action status

DailyTech reported earlier this month on a pending lawsuit, which sought class action against Microsoft for allegedly knowingly deceiving consumers by labeling underpowered computers "Vista Capable", when the computers could only run a bare bones version of Vista lacking many features.  The suit alleged that Microsoft's practice was designed to increase sales at the user's expense.

While the suit seemed somewhat tenuous due to the extensive easy to reach online documentation on system specifics needed and levels of capability, it was strengthened by leaked internal emails from Microsoft which painted a picture of many Microsoft employees and executives venting frustration about the program, which they believed was inaccurate

Several employees claimed to be personally affected by the claims, and said the management involved, "really botched this."  Wrote one Microsoft employee, Mike Nash, "I PERSONALLY got burnt ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."

A federal judge,
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, granted the suit class action status, but slightly narrowed its scope.  She ruled that a class action could proceed with the intent of determining whether Microsoft's stickers caused an artificial demand for PCs during the 2006 holiday shopping season, and inflated the prices of computers which couldn't be upgraded to Windows Vista, when it released in January 2007.

Ironically neither of the two people filing the original lawsuit had took part in Microsoft's upgrade program.  However, despite not purchasing Windows Vista, they argued that they were still hurt as they had to pay a higher price for their PCs while getting a computer that could only run a basic version of Windows Vista.

The Judge did say that if the pair added a named plaintiff who participated in the "Express Upgrade" program they could pursue the class action claims concerning the limited functionality as well.

One of Windows Vista's most touted features is the Aero interface.  However, it takes considerable overhead to run, and thus many of the machines labeled "Windows Vista," were unable to support it and could only run Windows Vista in a more graphically barren mode.

Microsoft did not comment on the suit, but may appeal the ruling.

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Another pointless lawsuit
By exanimas on 2/25/2008 2:00:03 AM , Rating: 5
Am I the only one that finds this ridiculous? MS is being sued because these people's computers weren't good enough to run Vista. To me, the word "capable" means something is able to and doesn't necessarily define how well it does whatever the action might be. A PC that's "Vista Capable" can run Vista... and theirs will. It just won't run as good as a computer with a Core 2/AMD X2 + 2GB of RAM etc. Big deal, if you want a new program buy the hardware to match.

If they win this case, it will prove how flawed our justice system is.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By bearxor on 2/25/2008 2:13:24 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. It's not as if the computers can not run Vista altogether. If that was the problem there would be a case here.

As it is, it's just another example of our lawsuit-happy society suing for any little thing.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By StevoLincolnite on 2/25/2008 4:51:46 AM , Rating: 4
Most of these machines only need a PCI Geforce FX 5200 - to enable the Aero Interface, It's like suing Crytek because Radeon x1300 isn't running Crysis smoothly, and can't have features turned on like Medium Quality shaders and direct X10 effects.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Omega215D on 2/25/2008 5:40:25 AM , Rating: 2
Many DX9 integrated GPU's can run aero pretty well too. Of course the Vista Home Basic (I purchased it since Home Premium is on my main rig while this one is on the MacBook) doesn't have the fancy Aero effects which probably what those stickers mean. The PC is capable of running the Basic version of Vista but can be upgraded to run the other versions.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By StevoLincolnite on 2/25/2008 9:39:16 AM , Rating: 2
Remember those "Stickers" were being placed on machines during the Pentium 4 Era, or more specifically on the GMA855 based machines which are only Direct X 7 class GPU's, and Because Intel is the largest Manufacturer of Graphics Processors... Well you get the picture.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By eye smite on 2/25/2008 10:42:56 AM , Rating: 4
I don't think the lawsuit will get very far and it's 6 one way, half dozen the other to me. It just puts a smile on my face to see MS having issues again. Just another reason to replace Balmer.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By encryptkeeper on 2/25/2008 10:15:40 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft DID purposely design Vista with hardware manufacturers and sellers in mind, rather than the public. I worked at a systems builder in 2006-2007 and our Microsoft rep told us, "When you sell Vista, you'll see your hardware sales go up". Yeah, and we saw our customers pissed off at selling them an OS they couldn't use but for a small percentage of users. Why do you think that Vista designed laptops won't run Windows XP? Overall, the campaign to sell Vista to the public has been pretty shabby overall. And I can't STAND setting Vista machines up. Remember the PC vs Mac commercial with the security guard? Yeah, the UAC is pretty much like that. And why the HELL did MS make the "Business" version so hardware demanding? Didn't they know that businesses don't want to spend more than four or five hundred bucks on a workstation, if they pay to replace one at all? If it wasn't for ITunes, I'd probably just switch to Ubuntu.

And something I've wondered for a many umm, healthy women visit this site? For months now the advertisements are all for Lane Bryant. Does Anandtech REALLY draw the XL ladies?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By FITCamaro on 2/25/2008 10:28:56 AM , Rating: 2
I've run Aero on a 945GM chipset.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Xerio on 2/25/2008 11:30:55 AM , Rating: 2
Same here. Aero runs great on my Dell e1405.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Locutus465 on 2/25/2008 1:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't get how people can be feeling that burned at this point. Just about any basic graphic's set up will run Areo decently. My HP laptop (work machine) has a gForce go 7150M which is only marginally better than your basic intel integrated graphics chip. I'm able to run dual monitors with Aero turned on with the system responding fairly well.

Yeah, this thing doesn't run as well as my desktop with it's Geforce 7800GT, but you know what I really didn't expect it to. I expected adiquate business performace and that's exactly what I got. I wonder if this lawsuite is really all about them not being able to run Crysis on their brand new PC with a similar graphics set up to mine. Seriously, my desktop about has a heart attack trying to play crysis, I can't imagin my laptop trying to run that game!

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 2/25/2008 3:12:17 PM , Rating: 3
Makes you wonder what Mike Nash bought for $2100 that can only run email. Maybe a "rare" collector 386 machine off of eBay?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 2/26/2008 1:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - Yesterday's Fry's ad had a AMD Athlon 4000+ computer with Microsoft Vista *included* -- and it was all of $399.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 2/28/2008 3:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the new news on Engadget today makes Mike Nash's statement a lot more sensible. There's two aspects of things going on.

Problem with Mike's machine has to do with compatibility and the lack of drivers for Vista. Having a Vista stick on a machine which doesn't have Vista drivers is not a good thing and a valid problem, I think.

Anybody surprised that Vista has compatibility problems?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By murphyslabrat on 2/25/2008 1:03:58 PM , Rating: 3
It's a "class-action" lawsuit, not intended to get money. It's about MS advertising, falsely, that certain computers will run Vista effectively.

To those out there saying they can run Vista on integrated solutions, I can run Ubuntu on a laptop with a 600Mhz CPU, 128MB RAM, and a 4MB ATI Mobility P. It isn't very fun to use, though. That is what the lawsuit is about, just because it is capable of running Vista doesn't mean that it would reasonable to expect someone to use Vista on it.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Denigrate on 2/25/2008 1:56:03 PM , Rating: 2
Eat many paint chips as a child? This is all about money. The lawyers will be paid HUGE $'s.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By murphyslabrat on 2/27/2008 10:05:36 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but the lawsuit itself is about corporate misinformation The lawyers acting like prostitutes has nothing to do with the purpose of the lawsuit.

By legendn3verdie on 2/25/2008 2:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
maybe "future proof" vista pc's were a bad idea in the first place.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Pirks on 2/25/2008 2:15:33 AM , Rating: 2
No, it will prove how smart the justice system is. MS tried to fool consumers by allowing OEMs to sell cheap underpowered 512M RAM notebooks and stuff like that with Vista preinstalled. Just read any feedback on those notebooks that were pushed down the people's throats with Vista instead of much more appropriate XP.

It's time to teach MS a lesson. I hope MS loses this case, and if this happens - then MS will THINK TWICE before trying to push Windows 7 on underpowered slow and cheap hardware down people's throats again.

In fact if MS loses this case it will make MS a better company, so let's wish them defeat, guys, 'cause otherwise their Win 7 OS will see waay more trouble than even sloooowww Vista had. Imagine Win 7 that will require a couple of gigs of RAM just to show the boot logo, being sold on those cheap $500 notebooks with just 1GB or RAM - do you wanna hear those Vista-like screams on and all over the Net again? Sheesh, if MS can't do business honestly - let the justice system to teach it a lesson on honest business practices.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By legendn3verdie on 2/25/2008 2:18:25 AM , Rating: 2
wow what is windows7?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Pirks on 2/25/2008 2:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By legendn3verdie on 2/25/2008 2:27:18 AM , Rating: 3
another version of windows already. I'm going to avoid this plague of software and back track to windows 98 at least.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By rcc on 2/25/2008 12:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
go back to DOS 4.01 at least. You'll be mostly alone, but you won't have any new virus issues.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By mondo1234 on 2/25/2008 2:38:20 AM , Rating: 4
Windows 7 with a three year time frame!! Thats gonna beat the next service pack for Vista out the door.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By BansheeX on 2/25/2008 3:03:22 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. WTH is the point of a completely new version of Windows or Office in such a short time frame. Oh, that's right... $$. I wonder if they'll make DX11 exclusive to it and drive even more people to consoles in disgust.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By mindless1 on 2/25/2008 11:33:14 AM , Rating: 3
Keep in mind that there are separate development teams and Vista was actually delayed by quite a bit, if it had arrived on the preliminary schedule that wouldn't make it seem to have such a short newest-version lifespan.

Also keep in mind that nobody is compelling you to upgrade. They could literally release a new version of windows every 12 months and you don't have to switch!

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By JimmyC on 2/25/2008 8:17:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and they could call it Vista Leopard.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Leirith on 2/25/2008 8:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
Until one day when the new Xbox requires an installation of the new Windows to play games.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By oab on 2/25/2008 3:22:20 AM , Rating: 3
Why bother with a 32 bit version? Just discontinue 32bit OS's at Vista. It's 3 years away, will you even be able to have "only" 4gb of ram in a computer in 3 years?

Just dump 32-bit already. It's like running windows 98 on a system that came with 3.1. You COULD, if you really, really wanted, but you were a blithering idiot to do so.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By FITCamaro on 2/25/2008 10:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
Vista will be the last 32-bit Microsoft OS. At least thats what they have said. And thank god for that. Time to let progress go forward.

I work in engineering and understand that some older things simply won't work in Vista and can't be upgraded to do it. But thats what XP is for. It will remain a competent OS for years to come. And I'm sure the next Windows, if built natively for 64-bit, will have 32-bit emulation.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By PrinceGaz on 2/25/2008 3:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
wow what is windows7?

Everything Vista was intended to be before features were steadily cut from it. Which is why I'm skipping Vista and intend to jump straight from XP to Windows 7 instead.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By oab on 2/25/2008 2:59:51 AM , Rating: 5
MS was being honest. A Vista-capable PC was capable of running Windows Vista. MS had 4 different versions available to consumers (basic, premium, business and ultimate). A "vista capable" pc met the requirements to run Windows Vista Home Basic. You can't argue that it is true, and there was no real attempt to hide it. It was a little underhanded yes, but they never LIED about it. It wasn't FALSE advertising.

I worked in a big-box retail computer speciality store (similar to Best Buy, CompUSA, Future Shop, etc.) at the time that this program was announced. MS sent out a rep, they sent flyers and leaflets to all the sales staff saying "vista capable = home basic, vista premium = home premium" and "upsell your customers to premium ready PC's and increase your sales dollars". MS did all they could to make sure that at the very least the management knew what the difference was. MS said in the pamphlets we got "we are doing this to keep demand strong during the holidays so make sure you tell your customers that just because a new OS is coming out, doesn't mean they can't buy a new PC yet"

When Vista finally came out half of the PC's we had on our showroom floor were Home Basic ones. Now, most of the PC's we had were laptops, and within a few months there were almost no vista basic laptops anymore (no-one bought them because they were crap for Vista and the OEM's recognized this and discontinued most models), but when it rolled out there were only a few more "premium" pc's on the shelves compared to before. The split pre-vista was 75% capable, 25% premium (assuming they had a sticker, not all did even if it met the requirements). On launch day, the split was 50% - %50%. In 4 months, the split became 25% basic 75% premium.

The sticker program DID hold back newer more powerful models of computers until January yes, but that's business. It wasn't false advertising, the "capable" machines were right beside the "premium" machines on the shelves, the sales guys were _supposed_ to have been told the difference, by the MS rep, the HP/Toshiba/Acer/etc. reps that visit all the stores and "train" the sales staff. Their managers would want them to upsell to the premium PC's because margins were higher and the line "this one can't run the premium edition of vista, but this one here that's $200 more can" is an easy sell.

I'm done.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By chick0n on 2/25/2008 9:56:28 AM , Rating: 1
lol, cry more sucker.

They got underpowered 500 laptop thats their problem. Vista Basic works just fine, but they're a moron to get such underpowered machine, even with XP is still underpowered, not to mention XP is already like what, over 7 years old ? Every single time MS change to another OS people will bitch, why ? Cuz people are freaking morons. MS cant fix stupidity.

If you want to talk about Greedy you should ask what Steve Jobs is doing with their Mac OS, wow, you'll get a *new* version every 1-2 years with just what, Eye candy update, a few buttons switch around, BOOM, you get a *brand new version*.

Vista aint slow if you know what you're doing, I've been using Vista since RTM I have yet to find any problem, sure the UAC thing annoys me sometimes, but when was the last time it pop up really ? I dont even remember. and how many people were bitching when XP first came out ? they all said *Win2K is fine, why we need it?*

Idiots from this lawsuit are people who brought a KIA expecting Ferrari like performance, didnt get what *they* expect then they start suing KIA.

They're not alone tho, cuz you are an idiot too.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By FITCamaro on 2/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By rcc on 2/25/2008 12:23:33 PM , Rating: 3
It really doesn't matter what they did. Had MS run a program that only identified systems that could run Vista and Aero well, someone would be suing because they were forced to buy more hardware than they needed to run Vista Basic.

Can we implement a national/international "Wake Up and Pull Your Head Out of your Ass" day? I'm sure the legal industry would hate it, but......

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By tdawg on 2/25/2008 1:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
It's ridiculous that this case is moving forward. Vista Capable meant it would run Vista Basic--read: no Aero Glass. To get all of the "prettiness" of Vista, you needed a PC labeled with a Vista Premium Ready, which would have supported hardware DX9 out of the box. The campaign was crystal clear when I read it; Microsoft should not be punished for the idiocy of consumers unwilling to educate themselves before making a purchase.

I just put Vista Basic on my parent's Dell, a machine with no "Vista Capable" sticker running a Pentium D 805 and 512mb of ram, and it's running perfectly. I ran Vista Ultimate on a A64 3000+ w/ 1.5gb ram and an ATI x850 with absolutely no problems. I didn't even notice a slowdown from XP.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Spoelie on 2/25/2008 4:45:04 AM , Rating: 5
I'm just wondering how you could put together a $2100 machine in the holiday season of 2006 which can not run all the features of vista. Did the monitor cost $1500, leaving $600 for the actual box? I would call that mis-allocation of funds, not deceptive marketing.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By fic2 on 2/25/2008 10:14:00 AM , Rating: 2
I was wondering the same thing - he obviously is not an engineer. Or maybe he is and that is part of microsoft's problem - certainly would explain a lot.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By codeThug on 2/25/2008 11:02:19 AM , Rating: 4
$1,564 USD spent on the Optimus Maximus.

Leaves $536.00 for the box and monitor.

Prolly wouldn't run XP very well either...

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By FITCamaro on 2/25/2008 12:32:49 PM , Rating: 3
He bought it from a guy named Jed who was like "Yup...this there the darn bestest computer you've ever saw."

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Techiedude37 on 2/25/2008 8:10:17 AM , Rating: 3
Microsoft gets sued for the most idiotic things. I remember when they were getting sued for including their web browser in their own operating system. Now they're being sued for mis-labeling PC's and artificially inflating prices?
Since when did Microsoft suddenly control the price of computers?
We can only hope this gets assigned to a tech-savvy judge (if there is such a person) otherwise Microsoft is probably facing another idiotic judgment.
What are the plaintiffs asking for anyway?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By joemoedee on 2/25/2008 9:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft gets sued for the most idiotic things. I remember when they were getting sued for including their web browser in their own operating system.

It wasn't that the web browser was included, it was due to it being a fully integrated part of the OS that due to its integrated status made it very difficult for others to compete. It's a bit different than this particular lawsuit. (see )

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 2/25/2008 3:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
Still don't see what the integration bought them. Firefox is much better than IE. Has Mozilla used information that the EU squeezed out of MS?

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By joemoedee on 2/26/2008 8:27:29 AM , Rating: 2
Still don't see what the integration bought them. Firefox is much better than IE.

Netscape and the such failed, I think partly due to the lack of broadband connectivity back in the day. If I want to try a browser now, the download isn't of a concern. At 28.8k, you really needed to want a program to download it. :) Why bother downloading something you already had? (In the minds of the typical IE user) Thus, many got on board with IE when it became an integral part of the Windows OS.

Last numbers (According to had IE at 81.14%, Firefox/Mozilla at 13.81%. Still a pretty commanding lead. (And basically an opposite mirror of Netscape vs IE back in the day)

Has Mozilla used information that the EU squeezed out of MS?

Good question. I doubt it. Mozilla's driving force is twofold. The anti-MS sentiment, as well as the constant security attacks on IE, drive Firefox.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 2/26/2008 1:33:16 PM , Rating: 2
But you see, that's the point. IE is successful, AFAIK, *NOT* because it is "integral" to the OS and wired-in using undocumented methods. It's successful simply because it comes included with Windows. But the bashing all revolved around the integral-ness, not the being-included-ness. Which makes me repeat my comments above as to why IE is so much better than Firefox due to it's being "integral" -- because I don't see it.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By Aikouka on 2/25/2008 8:37:22 AM , Rating: 3
I think the only reason they'd win this is either some sort of zealousness against Microsoft which tends to go hand-in-hand with ignorance toward technology. To clarify the zealousness statement, it's referring to people that think when anything goes wrong with their Windows environment, that it's always Microsoft's fault. Yes, when my Vista crashes because nVidia can't write a solid driver (how long has it been?), it sure is Microsoft's fault =P.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By retrospooty on 2/25/2008 9:52:09 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed... This line is from the article "I PERSONALLY got burnt ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."

I cant imagine a $2100 dollar machine built since Vista was released that cant run vista. In late 2006 a $2100 PC is more than plenty to run Vista. It sounds to me like people dont know how to shop for computers at all.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By 306maxi on 2/25/2008 3:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
I built a PC back in 2003 and with the addition of a 6600gt in 2005 it was more than capable of running Vista AND all up it cost me less than $2000 AUSTRALIAN dollars.

This guy (the guy you're referring to, not you!) is a moron.

RE: Another pointless lawsuit
By BruceLeet on 2/25/2008 11:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
This is the sole reason why Apple like to bash Vista

Intel Mac Pro $2,799 as is on Apple website

-Two Intel 2.8 Intel Quad Core Xeon Proc
-2GB Mem
-2600XT GPU

Intel Dell (model#)-Vista Capable $499

-Intel Core Duo 1.8Ghz
-1GB Dell brand memory
-Integrated Graphics (on-board)

Now tell me what OS is going to run faster and more efficient and these idiots filing the lawsuit don't see through their own stupidity

Oh well, back to VS Web Dev. and MySQL. suffered a and is closing down =p

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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