Millions of PCs Claimed to be “Vista Capable” Aren’t Says Lawsuit Against Microsoft
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Millions of PCs that were offered as being “Windows Vista Capable” aren’t, according to a lawsuit filed this week against Microsoft. The class action lawsuit, on behalf of an as yet undetermined number of consumers who purchased PCs in the past year with the expectation that they would be able to run all of the Windows Vista features, alleges that Microsoft knowingly and intentionally mislead consumers by allowing PC manufacturers to label PCs on the market as “Windows Vista Capable” when that meant only that the PC hardware would be able to run only the most basic features of Vista, and would not be able to run all the features that everyone is anticipating from Vista, such as the Vista Aero appearance, the Media Center, the Meeting Space, the cool 3d window-switching, and more. In other words, explains Michael Rosenberger, attorney for the named plaintiff Dianne Kelley, “All the “wow” stuff that Microsoft is selling and marketing,” which, Rosenberger explains, “is present in Premium, but it’s not present in Basic,” (the Basic version of Vista which is all the “Windows Vista Capable” PCs are capable of running).

The lawsuit alleges that “consumers were falsely led to believe they would be upgraded to a dramatically new operating system bearing the key features marketed by Microsoft,” and points to Microsoft’s Express Upgrade plan, which allows users to upgrade from Windows XP to Vista for $100 – but to Vista Basic only. The lawsuit asserts that the much-touted “Express Upgrade” is an upgrade “in name only…not the functionality.”


To upgrade to the full premium package can cost as much as $259, and requires a machine to have at least 1 gigabyte of system memory, a 1GHz processor, and a 40 gigabyte hard drive with at least 15 GB of space free. By contrast, to be labelled as “Windows Vista Capable”, a system need only have an 800 MHz processor and 512MB of system memory – not nearly enough to run the full-featured versions of Vista that consumers were expecting to be able to run when purchasing a “Windows Vista Capable” computer system, as asserted by the lawsuit.

According to Microsoft Attorney Linda Norman, Microsoft “conducted a very broad and unprecedented effort” so that PC retailers and manufacturers and consumers alike would all “understand the hardware requirements to run the various flavors of the Windows Vista operating system.” Norman added that “We feel as a company we went beyond what we’ve ever done to try to educate people so that they understood and could make the right purchase decision.”

One of the things which Microsoft did was to create not only a “Windows Vista Capable” designation, but also a “Windows Vista Premium Ready” designation which PC manufacturers and retailers could put on their PCs if they had the minimum requirements to run all of the features of Windows Vista (i.e. the 1GHz processor and the 1GB of system memory).

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Unfortunately, consumers seeing only a “Windows Vista Capable” sticker, and unaware that there was an alternate “Windows Vista Premium Ready” set of specs that you had to have in order to truly get the Vista experience, would reasonably expect to be able to run Vista – in all its glory – on a “Windows Vista Capable” machine. Most consumers are not aware or savvy enough to realize just how many versions of Vista there are.

Microsoft could have avoided this by having the “Windows Vista Capable” stickers explain that this meant just the minimum requirements to run the basic operating system. The lawsuit claims that the omission was intentional, and goes so far as to indict Bill Gates himself for an appearance on the Today Show, in which he claimed that “PC users could 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,” asserts the lawsuit.

 

Counters Microsoft’s Norman, “Anybody who purchased a PC that had the Windows Vista Capable logo got the core experience of Windows Vista.”

(For an excellent clear chart of what the various versions of Vista include, and how much they cost, see this chart of Windows Vista features at PC World.)

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3 thoughts on “Millions of PCs Claimed to be “Vista Capable” Aren’t Says Lawsuit Against Microsoft
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  1. This does not surprise me at all. A total lack of integrity is becoming the norm in our country, just look at your government, and specifically the current administration.

  2. From the info in this article, the lawsuit seems to have merit, but unless someone can draw the Federal Trade Commission into it, it won’t go anywhere — Microsoft has the cash and the clout to just wait out anyone else who wants to sue…

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