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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 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?

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