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Consumer without Aero launches attack on Microsoft

A class action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. has been filed for the company’s Windows Vista Capable logo on new computers. According to Seattle P-I, the suit alleges that it was deceptive to include the logo on machines not capable of running all the features Microsoft was touting as new features of Windows Vista.

To run Windows Vista, PCs require a minimum of 512MB of RAM, an 800MHz or faster processor and a DirectX 9-capable graphics card—but those requirements do not guarantee a computer of running the new operating system will run with all new features. One such feature is “Aero,” an updated graphical user interface that requires both a relatively powerful graphics card and one of the most expensive versions of Windows Vista.

“In sum, Microsoft engaged in bait and switch -- assuring consumers they were purchasing 'Vista Capable' machines when, in fact, they could obtain only a stripped-down operating system lacking the functionality and features that Microsoft advertised as 'Vista,'” read the complaint.

The suit also alleges that Bill Gates played a part in misleading consumers after making a comment that users would be able to upgrade to Windows Vista for less than $100.

“In fact, one can only 'upgrade' to Home Basic for that price, which Mr. Gates and Microsoft know is a product that lacks the features marketed by Microsoft as being Vista,” the suit said, alleging that Gates' statement “furthered Microsoft's unfair and deceptive conduct.”

“Anybody who purchased a PC that had the Windows Vista Capable logo got the core experience of Windows Vista,” said Linda Norman, a Microsoft associate general counsel. “We have different versions, and they do offer different features. ... The Windows (Vista) core experience is a huge advance over Windows XP, we believe, and provides some great features, particularly in the area of security and reliability, and just general ease of use.”



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RE: How Empty Are People's lives...
By mark2ft on 4/4/2007 10:09:48 PM , Rating: -1
I'll try to inform you the best I can about lawsuits (I'm a law school student in California).

What happened here was, the lawyer(s) here filed a complaint. This is merely a document alleging facts. I'll assume that the plaintiffs' lawyer filed suit in federal court. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for very broad, liberal allegations. In fact, you don't even need to show ANY evidentiary facts. This is because we don't want people to have 100% of all necessary evidence in order to sue someone.

Make it so the case has to prove a set sum of financial loss or physical pain and suffering, death, disfiguring,etc...

I hope you were half-joking. Adopting such a rule would basically cripple the justice system. What if you were the victim of fraud? How are you supposed to prove damages and link that to the scam artist, if the scam artist has the bulk of the evidence? You get the idea.

Don't worry. The majority of class actions get thrown out--they never get beyond the pleading stage of complaints and answers by the plaintiffs and defendants, respectively, usually because a court denies certification of the class, as per the class action.

I must say though--this lawsuit isn't that crazy or retarded as you think. Misrepresentation can be serious. I don't think you'd be able to ridicule these people if, for instance, one of the plaintiffs is a business owner who purchased a volume license of Vista and 500 computers for an internet cafe chain, only to realize that his investment would not be able to take advantage of the Aero's visual appeal.


RE: How Empty Are People's lives...
By masher2 (blog) on 4/4/2007 11:15:23 PM , Rating: 3
> "Misrepresentation can be serious..."

It can be. In this particular case, however, it's not.

> "for instance, one of the plaintiffs is a business owner who purchased a volume license of Vista and 500 computers for an internet cafe chain, only to realize that his investment would not be able to take advantage of the Aero's visual appeal..."

And? He wasn't promised Aero. He was promised Vista. And- -more to the point-- the person making the promise wasn't even Microsoft, it was the hardware vendor. So why sue Microsoft?

> "Don't worry. The majority of class actions get thrown out..."

The fact that the vast majority of suits are frivolous is supposed to reassure us? Even when they are thrown out, they still clogs up the judicial system and, by forcing manufacturers to defend against them, raises prices for all of us.


By mark2ft on 4/5/2007 3:03:37 PM , Rating: 3
Just to clarify myself: I wasn't trying to argue on the substantive matter of this case--I was just trying to talk about the procedural requirements of a federal district court.

quote:
It can be. In this particular case, however, it's not.


OK, that's your opinion, and I respect that. I wasn't saying that there was misrepresentation. I was merely trying to explain the procedural rules regarding filing a complaint, and the standard of what is OK for a complaint and what is not OK as a complaint in federal court. My apologies if I sounded like I was trying to say that there was misrepresentation. (By the way, such questions are for the jury to figure out--and here, it's not even at the stage because this class action complaint needs to get certified before going any further in the litigation process.)

quote:
And? He wasn't promised Aero. He was promised Vista. And- -more to the point-- the person making the promise wasn't even Microsoft, it was the hardware vendor. So why sue Microsoft?


Point taken. I actually looked into the complaint that the plaintiffs filed (it was in the link, on the left as PDF) and it looks like plaintiffs here did NOT sue anyone else but Microsoft. Ideally, you'd want to name as many related defendants as possible, so that Microsoft can't say "oh, I'm sorry, but the real culprit is X, who is not here in court because you didn't name him as defendant." (the classic "empty chair" defense)

quote:
The fact that the vast majority of suits are frivolous is supposed to reassure us?


Generally speaking, the majority of suits in federal court (not class action) go past the pleading stage. This is the stage of filing a complaint, and the defendant answering. This is because of the liberal rules, as I described above. After this, you move on to discovery, which is a stage where you gather all the evidence. Then you go to trial. Then you get a verdict. And then you might appeal that decision, whereupon the appellate court can do things like reverse the decision for a new trial, or just affirm the lower court's holding.

Class actions, though, are pretty hard to maintain past the pleading stage, just because there are so many rules to satisfy (you need to certify the class, and this requires defining the class, among a slew of other requirements, which makes it pretty hard for plaintiffs to go through with the class action).

quote:
Even when they are thrown out, they still clogs up the judicial system and, by forcing manufacturers to defend against them, raises prices for all of us.


I agree. But knocking a case out early in the pleading stage shouldn't take much of a toll in the judicial process. It shouldn't cost the manufacturers much money, because it's nothing compared to the real work that goes on later in the litigation process, like discovery and showing up in court (or even deciding to settle out of court).


RE: How Empty Are People's lives...
By lucyfek on 4/5/2007 12:46:07 AM , Rating: 3
being a law student you're (will be) involved in the scheme and quite frankly i consider your explanation as a form of pr, not convincing by the way (professional? - yes). the issue is the "force feeding" - most of the so called class action lawsuits (the more dubious reasons the better) does not benefit customers but only few lawyers that had come up with the idea of the lawsuit. consumers as a rule fork the bills (essentially losing even more). and the vista capable thing is just the perfect example (surely some part of vista price covers present/future liabilities).
sue ms so it opened its file/os standards so others could create compatible applications/os; do it for reasonable price (if you can understand the meaning of reasonable the way the non-lawyers do) and i'll call it win win situations. it's a pity but most of the "law entrepreneurs" present themselves as an example of pure greed. sorry if this generalization offends you, but this is my opinion.


By mark2ft on 4/5/2007 3:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
being a law student you're (will be) involved in the scheme and quite frankly i consider your explanation as a form of pr, not convincing by the way (professional? - yes).


What "scheme"? Yes, lawyers have a bad reputation in the US. But don't stereotype ME just because I'm a law student.

quote:
most of the so called class action lawsuits (the more dubious reasons the better) does not benefit customers but only few lawyers that had come up with the idea of the lawsuit. consumers as a rule fork the bills (essentially losing even more).


Yes, in many instances, lawyers get the bulk of the monetary awards, while plaintiffs often get discount "coupons" for their next purchase from the same defendant-manufactuer! This is one of the biggest criticisms of how class action suits have been played out, and like my professor, I agree that this is a problem. But I don't agree that the aim of class actions is to sue someone for dubious reasons. As an attorney, you want to WIN in court. You don't want to lose case after case because of your dubious reasons.

quote:
sue ms so it opened its file/os standards so others could create compatible applications/os; do it for reasonable price (if you can understand the meaning of reasonable the way the non-lawyers do) and i'll call it win win situations.


Regarding suing MS to make it open up its file/os standards: yes, this may be a good reason. I guess the law to back that up would be something along the lines of antitrust statutes.

About reasonable price: well, sure. The problem is the class action nature. The bigger the class, the less money each class member gets. Here the plaintiffs didn't specify the exact amount of damages (go to the "Prayer" part of the complaint PDF in the link). But they did say that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, so hopefully the lawyers won't end up gobbling up everything.

quote:
it's a pity but most of the "law entrepreneurs" present themselves as an example of pure greed. sorry if this generalization offends you, but this is my opinion.


I know, this is a growing problem. I had a speaker during my law school orientation that lawyers are getting paid too much. This is true in a lot of cases--class actions being a good example.


RE: How Empty Are People's lives...
By ZmaxDP on 4/5/2007 1:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I believe this is why the plaintiff should have to pay all legal costs unless the ruling is in their favor. When it could cost you a few grand, or a few hundred grand in some cases, to make a complaint, you'll only take it to court if you're sure you've been wronged.

One of the things I like about British law...


By mark2ft on 4/5/2007 3:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, your suggestion is the current state of the law in the US, as far as I know. Lawyers usually demand money up front, and EVEN IF the ruling is in the plaintiff's favor, the plaintiff does NOT automatically get compensation for attorney fees. Someone I know tried to get an attorney, but the attorney requested $10,000 in cash, up front. So he just gave up. It all depends on the attorney though--some are nice enough to waive their attorney fees altogether. (Yes, for those who don't believe me, search for the Popov v. Hayashi case in google about the claim over a baseball. Hayashi's lawyer waived his fees.)


"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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