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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By regnez on 2/25/2008 5:56:28 AM , Rating: 3
This article is a shining example of a quote commonly found on DailyTech:

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committee's, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

MS did not "push" Vista on anyone or "shove it down their throats," as many people here seem to believe. WinXP is still available as a pre-installed option on some PCs, and if someone is going to buy an extremely low-end computer, they would be wise to go that route.

If a PC is labeled as "Vista Capable," that means all it needs to be able to do is run Vista, in any fashion. "Capable" does not mean that it is going to be a fast, smooth, or pleasant experience.

Here are the minimum specs for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, as found on Bethesda's website:

* Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows XP 64-bit
* 512MB System RAM
* 2 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
* 128MB Direct3D compatible video card
* and DirectX 9.0 compatible driver;
* 8x DVD-ROM drive
* 4.6 GB free hard disk space
* DirectX 9.0c (included)
* DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
* Keyboard, Mouse

Now, if I were to actually try and run the game on a system like that, it would not be a good experience. In fact, it would be awful. The game would move like a slideshow, textures would look horrible, and the overall experience would be miserable. But the game would run, and that is the only promise Bethesda makes.

It is a consumers responsibility to do research when buying a product -- not Microsoft's, Bethesda's, or anyone else's.

As the above quote states, however, users cannot be expected to make informed, rational decisions. If that were the case, a lot of people would be unemployed.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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