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A Windows Vista Capable logo in the wild
Lawsuit may have forced Microsoft to change what it means to be Vista Capable

Two weeks ago, Dianne Kelley started a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft alleging the software company is engaging in deceptive practices by branding new computers with a Windows Vista Capable logo even if they couldn't run the all the new operating system’s features.

Although Microsoft strongly refutes Kelley’s claims, the threat of a lawsuit may have triggered the company to change its language on what “Vista Capable” means. As clipped by a blog at the Seattle Times, Microsoft originally described its Windows Vista Capable program as the following (all bold emphasis added by Seattle Times author):

“Through the Windows Vista Capable program, Windows XP-based PCs that are powerful enough to run Windows Vista are now available from leading PC manufacturers worldwide, including Acer Inc., Dell Inc., Fujitsu Limited, Gateway Inc., HP, Lenovo, NEC Corp., Sony Corp., Toshiba and more. The Windows Vista Capable logo is designed to assure customers that the PCs they buy today will be ready for an upgrade to Windows Vista and can run the core experiences of Windows Vista.

Shortly following the news of the lawsuit, the explanation of the Windows Vista Capable program appeared to have changed to this:

“A new PC running Windows XP that carries the Windows Vista Capable PC logo can run Windows Vista. All editions of Windows Vista will deliver core experiences such as innovations in organizing and finding information, security, and reliability. All Windows Vista Capable PCs will run these core experiences at a minimum. Some features available in the premium editions of Windows Vista — like the new Windows Aero user experience — may require advanced or additional hardware.”

While both the original and updated descriptions mention that Vista Capable means being able to run the “core experience,” the updated passage clearly states those experiences will run at a minimum.

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RE: Lawyer speak
By Kuroyama on 4/9/2007 11:16:05 AM , Rating: 1
I disagree. Most people only know what they see on TV, and from reviews or MS ads you'll believe Vista = cool new graphical interface. In fact, there should be distinct "Vista Capable" and "Vista Aero Capable" labels, so the idiot computer buyer (who won't read the Microsoft description anyways) will be certain to realize that computers with Vista Home are lacking in eye candy.

I dislike ambulance chasing lawyers as much as anyone, but in this case I think the new description is a positive outcome of the lawsuit being filed, regardless of whether Microsoft should actually be liable for anything or not.

RE: Lawyer speak
By noirsoft on 4/9/2007 11:25:06 AM , Rating: 4
There already is such a distinction in labels: "Vista Capable" vs "Vista Premium Ready"

RE: Lawyer speak
By Kuroyama on 4/9/2007 11:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
So to Mr. Dumbass they'll think "Vista Capable" means it has the stuff they saw on TV, and "Vista Premium Ready" means it's got some extra stuff I don't need. I think "Vista Home" should be called "Windows Classic" and "Vista Premium" should be called "Vista Home". After all, Aero and Media Center are the only noticeable differences between regular XP & Vista, and those only come with Vista Premium.

RE: Lawyer speak
By BMFPitt on 4/9/2007 11:55:54 AM , Rating: 3
How noticeable is the change from Windows 95 to XP, in your opinion? All they updated was the UI, right?

When the only thing you notice is the GUI, only the GUI has been updated.

RE: Lawyer speak
By Scott66 on 4/9/2007 12:44:46 PM , Rating: 3
Here is a Microsoft example of reality verses customer expectations.
Spending half an hour explaining that Microsoft Windows does not include Microsoft Office. Nowhere does it say that the Office is a part of windows. But people expect it because they are both Microsoft and as far as the customer sees,they are always together (at a friends house, workplace etc.).

Now add the extra wrinkle of the different versions of office and Windows. A person does not have to be an idiot to be confused and to expect more. Now the real fun part is in telling him/her how much office will cost to get publisher and powerpoint.

RE: Lawyer speak
By Volrath06660 on 4/9/2007 4:57:48 PM , Rating: 1
Dude, they updated more than that I think......95 was still FAT32 file organization, with a maximum file size of 1 byte under 4 gigs, while XP is NTFS file organization, with a much much much bigger file size...I am not exactly sure how large.....The UI change was minor in comparison to a file system change.

That is my biggest beef with was supposed to have a new file system, but they cheaped out at the end and stayed with NTFS. Now the only selling point is DX 10 and RAM addressing for up to 128 gigs. Good steps, but a new file system would have been nice.

RE: Lawyer speak
By JCheng on 4/9/2007 2:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
Even the new Vista Basic UI is quite different from Windows XP. It's closer to Aero than it is to XP.

RE: Lawyer speak
By Kuroyama on 4/9/2007 11:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
The new color palette is more pleasing to the eye, but I'm sure someone already has a WinXP layout to do that, and it hardly counts as much of an upgrade. And the sidebar is just a nicer version of an idea that was around in Win98 and never caught on (don't think I like it now either). I've only been using Vista for a week, but it really seems to me like XP with more eye candy, an annoyingly detailed control panel, and directories shuffled around a bit.

As for the XP vs. 98 post, WinXP was much more stable than Win98. I still occasionally use a Win98 laptop and try to avoid the internet with it like the plague, because inevitably it soon locks up.

RE: Lawyer speak
By burlingk on 4/15/2007 2:00:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think one thing should be pointed out.

"Vista Home" is Vista Premium.
What you keep calling home, is just called "Vista Basic".

I know the rest of your point still stands pretty much, but the distinction is important so that people know what you are talking about.

Of course the name basic does imply something... That it is pretty well basic.

RE: Lawyer speak
By peternelson on 4/10/2007 9:49:42 AM , Rating: 3
Labels aside, the average PC buyer won't know what to ask for. They won't know there are at least two label programs, not to mention the one for software.

We anandtech/dailytech readers know what Aero actually is, but many less knowing will equate vista with aero.

They will ask "can it run vista?"

Or "Does it come with Vista?"

The salesperson will rapidly say "of course it can/does/will" to get the sale.

Strictly speaking he answered their question, but he didn't educate them on how well it would run vista or the known limitations.

Further, many sales people won't even know/appreciate the difference themselves!

So it's not just a Microsoft problem, they have to educate their channels to market and customers. There is POS literature describing the different versions of Vista but AFAIK it doesn't mention the different hardware labels that get stuck on PCs thus consumers remain ignorant. All they know to look for is the magic word "Vista" and assume.

There might be valid legal claims against retailers who "misled" customers as to the capabilities of the hardware, knowingly or unknowingly.

RE: Lawyer speak
By Dactyl on 4/9/2007 3:28:48 PM , Rating: 4
The question is whether MSFT created the impression that Aero Glass was part of the "core experience" of Vista. I think it did.

Simply being able to do everything WinXP could do is the core functionality of Vista, but the Aero Glass goodies are part of the experience that MSFT was selling.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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