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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 joemoedee on 2/25/2008 9:40:54 AM , Rating: 3
Here's MS's page on "Vista Capable"

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsv...

Some highlights...

A Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least:

* A modern processor (at least 800MHz¹).
* 512 MB of system memory.
* A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.

Not really beefy requirements there. I'd really hate to see Vista on a 800 Mhz P3 with 512 megs of Ram.

As any person that has any actual PC-related experience truly knows, the bare minimum usually is lousy for performance. Lets rewind to Windows 95...

• Personal computer with a 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended)
• 4 megabytes (MB) of memory (8 MB recommended)
• Typical hard disk space required to upgrade to Windows 95: 35-40 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
• Typical hard disk space required to install Windows 95 on a clean system: 50-55 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
• One 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive
• VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended)

Windows 95 on a 386DX with 4 Megs of Ram? I'd rather claw my eyes out than watch that load. It was painful on a 486/66dx2 with 16 megs of ram, IMO.

I really don't see how this has any merit at all, as MS has another branding program for Vista Premium.

A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:

* 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor¹).
* 1 GB of system memory.
* Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)², Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
* 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space.
* DVD-ROM Drive³.
* Audio output capability.
* Internet access capability.

I'm doubt that's going to give you a great experience either, but those are the requirements.

It seems to me Vista was marketed poorly to the consumer by the retailers, versus Microsoft themselves.




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