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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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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.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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