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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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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.

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.)

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)

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).

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).

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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