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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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By logaldinho on 2/25/2008 2:28:49 AM , Rating: 4
I have a feeling that these people supporting this class action suit are the same people that disregarded everything their sales person at BBY/CC/whatever computer store they purchase from and went with the cheapest model available. Im sure they even used the phrases "Im really just planning on using the internet" "i dont think i need all that hard drive space" "i dont think i need a lot of ram" "whats the cheapest thing you carry" "did i see a compaq over there"

RE: stupid
By legendn3verdie on 2/25/2008 2:30:00 AM , Rating: 2
lol good point

RE: stupid
By oab on 2/25/2008 3:13:34 AM , Rating: 2
And ignored the easy "merely capable to PREMIUM" upsell that the BB/CC/RS/FS sales drones would try and push on customers.

Really, the capable vs. premium PC? That's an classic example of an upsell. "why buy this one here that can't even run all the features of the new OS that's coming out?"

That said, if all you wanted was an electronic device you could press buttons on and have black letters appear on a white page, buy a typwriter. IBM made some great ones.

I jest of course.

However, spending $400 on a box you could type emails into, and read wikipedia on, buy a vista capable machine. All it means is that you will get drivers for it when Vista is released, not much else.

As an aside, you could buy a Lenovo w/ 256mb ram, Sempron processor, 40GB HDD, CD-ROM drive w/keyboard, mouse and speakers for $199 (two years ago now). Cheaper than your Compaq :P

RE: stupid
By bnutz on 2/25/2008 6:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
Totally agree, in another post someone was complaining about people who bought laptops with 512mb of ram and the computers came with vista making it slow. Of course it's going to be slow, that's why it was $500. It's funny how people want to buy a $500 computer to do whatever they want like gaming, graphics, etc. When I go into these stores and hear the customer telling the sales people " I don't need that, I just want this one." which is always the $500, notebook or desktop. Then they offer to upgrade the memory, they always say " I not going to use it that much" It's entertaining. Try it some time at your local retailer.

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