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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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The Real Problem
By headbox on 2/25/2008 3:20:57 AM , Rating: -1
The real problem is a consumer only has a choice between Vista flavors when buying a PC. The sub $1k market is huge for computers, and virtually none of them can properly run Vista. Even my overclocked Q6600, 8600GTS, 4 GB RAM, 1 TB RAID 0 system scored only a 5 on the Vista speed test. Considering the monopoly of OS options for the consumer in almost every store, online or retail, I hope M$ gets burned very badly.

RE: The Real Problem
By oab on 2/25/2008 3:23:30 AM , Rating: 1
RE: The Real Problem
By just4U on 2/25/2008 3:51:55 AM , Rating: 2
I think your a little off on the sub 1k machines. More like sub $700 these days. The average enthusiast on these forums can build a PC with all the trimmings for around 800ish... (yes with a lcd to!) and it would fly thru vista (with 4g of ram, 256 meg video, and dual core cpu to boot)

Since we can do that with costs via newegg/ncix (ect) surely DELL, HP and their ilk could put people into similiar machines for considerably less....

One would think anyway.

RE: The Real Problem
By jajig on 2/25/2008 7:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
The scores only go up to 5.

RE: The Real Problem
By Griswold on 2/25/2008 7:46:57 AM , Rating: 2
No, it goes up to 5.9

RE: The Real Problem
By Spivonious on 2/25/2008 7:59:20 AM , Rating: 2
Your score is only as high as your weakest link.

I have a 5.3 because of the processor, but everything else is 5.7 or 5.9. Also, MS has plans to increase the maximium value in the coming months.

RE: The Real Problem
By BrownJohn on 2/25/2008 3:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
you can increase the values up to 9.9 by editing a xml file:

RE: The Real Problem
By Griswold on 2/25/2008 8:31:17 AM , Rating: 2
Uhh, did you ever bother to check what gave you the 5 out of 5.9 (which is the highest score, at the moment)? The lowest component dictates the final score. Its probably that video card - because its no good for serious gaming (which also has an influence on this "performance rating", however useless it may be).

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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