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Vista Branding Confusing Even To Microsoft 236

Posted by Zonk
from the definition-of-capable dept.
Trotti Laganna writes "Lawyers are now arguing a case brought against Microsoft over Vista's marketing. The software giant is being dinged for allegedly not telling the truth when it put the 'Vista capable' logo on PCs that would only be capable of running Vista Home Basic. Case in point - even the software giant's marketing director Mark Croft was confused by the pre-launch campaign in the United States. Croft's explanation was that "'capable'...has an interpretation for many that, in the context of this program, a PC would be able to run any version of the Windows operating system". After a 10-minute break to talk to Microsoft's lawyers, Croft admitted he had made 'an error', and retracted his previous statement, saying that, by 'capable', Microsoft meant 'able to run a version of Vista'."
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Vista Branding Confusing Even To Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:36AM (#21530627)
    Posting from my linux machine, because my new vista capable computer still hasn't completed booting since I bought it back in Aug.
  • Confused (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I read the article and still don't get it. Who is claiming what and why is there a lawsuit against Microsoft.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:38AM (#21530635) Homepage
    When I was at University, someone I knew had a computer that was capable of running Windows 95.

    She was using a 486.
    • by eggstasy (458692)
      I used to run Windows 95 on my 486 10-11 years ago.
      A 486 with 32 megs of RAM could run Windows 95 just fine. A 486 with 8 megs of RAM, however... would take literally three minutes to boot basic stuff like IE2.
      • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:46AM (#21530683) Homepage
        A 486 with 32 megs of RAM could run Windows 95 just fine. A 486 with 8 megs of RAM, however... would take literally three minutes to boot basic stuff like IE2.

        Jo, is that you?
      • Believe it or not the skin flint organisation I work for got 486's to run NT workstation - but only for those users running a terminal emulator to work on our Unix systems. No e-mail, no office apps, no IE, just the emulator. To be fair they save thousends on upgrade costs as this was applied to ~800 machines.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by marcosdumay (620877)

        "A 486 with 32 megs of RAM could run Windows 95 just fine."

        Yes, and that same computer was slow as hell running a (bare) XWindow system. Every GUI for Linux was just unusable because of such slowness.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by thannine (576719)
          Well, I don't know about the same computer, but my 486 was running X windows just fine. It was beating the crap out of the win 3.11 I was using at the time. (When I still dual-booted). And I was running with 16 megs of memory, being the poor student I was.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            It probably depends on what MHz the 486 was running at. According to wikipedia, the 486 [wikipedia.org] ran at speeds from as low as 16 MHz, all the way up to 100 MHz. I had a DX4 100, which ran windows 95 quite well. However, I know a lot of people who had the 33 MHz version, who's computers were much slower than mine.
      • by rograndom (112079)
        In highschool, my friend had a 486SX2-50 with 8mb of ram. It ran WFWG 3.11 and Doom wonderfully. Then he put a copy of the brand-y new Win95 on it and it was like frozen molasses in January, he then picked up a 4mb stick of RAM for some obscene amount of money at the time ($100 maybe?), bringing the total to 12mb and then it quite usable, amazingly.
        • by stjobe (78285)

          frozen molasses in January

          Does the speed frozen molasses run really differ depending on what month it is? I would have thought that once the molasses was frozen its speed would vary very little. Now, unfrozen molasses I could see running slower in the winter months than in the summer, but frozen molasses? I don't know, but it seems to me it would be just as slow any old month.
      • I've never ever seen IE 2. I used Netscape before IE 4.
    • by jacquesm (154384)
      windows '95 probably was the most stable release of windows that MS ever made. This must have been partly due to the fact that at the time an internet connection was very much optional and viruses had to spread slowly. There was also no 'backchannel' for paydirt to be delivered to the perp, so the worst that could happen was data desctruction. I often wonder what would have happened to the IT world if MS would have wised up at the time and bought out one of the unixes of the time (SGI would have been a good
      • by gazbo (517111) on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:20AM (#21530845)
        You are banned from ever talking about operating systems. It's for your own good.
      • by rvw (755107)

        windows '95 probably was the most stable release of windows that MS ever made.
        I had to reinstall my system about every three months. I don't call that stable.
      • by Sigma 7 (266129)

        windows '95 probably was the most stable release of windows that MS ever made.

        No, it wasn't. If you attempt to access the file located at c:\con\con, you get an instant bluescreen and can no longer use your system. A malicious webpage can easily say that it needs to load an image there. There are plenty of other ways to mess up the operating system, such as attempting to load Slashdot or Kuro5hin when you have moderator privilages - the number of combo boxes on those pages alone will cause the OS to run out of GDI resources.

        Architecture wise, Windows 95 is a version of Windows 3.

      • by cnettel (836611)
        You confuse stability and security. Shared 16-bit GDI, anyone? 49.7 day bug? NT 3.x was real stable and had the era-advantages you mention.
        • Good grief! Windows 9x running for 49.7 days?

          I'm sure the bug you mention is purely theoretical and has never been seen in real life. :)
    • by paganizer (566360)
      I've got a 386DX-40 w/32MB that runs Win98SE no problems; I've got a 486DX-120 system w/96MB that runs Win2k with no problems, it was my file server/RAID system for years.
      If you don't try to run games, you can get a lot of good use out of older hardware.
    • by Vexorian (959249)
      I got to run windows 98 in my old 486dx4 computer. It is not a big deal, such computer would always be slow whether you put windows 3.11 or 98 didn't make a hell of a difference. Although I did upgrade RAM a little.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:40AM (#21530651)
    For kicks, go to the women's section of your favorite department store and pick up a few jeans that are the same size (pick something that would fit you. Lane Bryant might be a good store choice). Take the jeans into a changing room and try them on. What you'll find is that even though the same size is printed on the label, the actual size varies from item to item.

    Now, when you hear someone say something is Vista "capable", you'll realize that "capable" means the bare minimum requirements have been met. Likewise, "ready" doesn't mean much more, though MS marketing wants to make the differentiation. So what matters here is not whether the bare minimum can run the lowest version of Vista, but whether it can run the more featureful versions at all. Should someone mind if their Vista "capable" machine is as slow as a dog running Vista Ultimate and can't take advantage of the Aero interface? I would say that anyone paying for the barebones shouldn't expect to run the top of the line, no matter what the labelling.

    In other words, always buy one size larger than you expect to fit. Also, always try the pants on before buying.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:47AM (#21530687) Journal

      Look, as your nick suggests on slashdot we use real men's anologies namely cars. Guy stuff. Not clothing and most certainly not womens clothing and MOST DEFINITLY NOT TRYING THEM ON.

      Yes I know the temptation can be great when you feel that soft lace... Eh, how about them Yankees eh.

      • by esme (17526)
        Clearly, this being Slashdot, he should have invented a girlfriend to attribute the women's pants experience to. -Esme
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rvw (755107)

          Clearly, this being Slashdot, he should have invented a girlfriend to attribute the women's pants experience to. -Esme
          Clearly he hás invented an imaginary girlfriend. And because she cannot be naked all the time he had to go and try these cloths, understand?
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:28AM (#21530901) Homepage Journal

        Look, as your nick suggests on slashdot we use real men's anologies namely cars. Guy stuff. Not clothing and most certainly not womens clothing and MOST DEFINITLY NOT TRYING THEM ON.
        I don't know, I was kind of getting in to his analogy. Who among us hasn't secretly wanted to go into a Lane Bryant and try on a nice sheath dress? I mean, NOT ME, but I'm thinking there might be some of you guys who would like that sort of thing. In a strictly ironic way, of course. As a joke.
        • Do it in Second Life. Nobody will know you're a guy.
          • Yeah, but the silk just doesn't feel the same in second life as it does in ... um. So... we're putting in 220 in the whole house and I've got bundled 2x cat6, coax piped to each room. Hey wanna come check out my new Holley 4-barrel double-pumper? aw crap. that didn't come out right either.
      • Well, the obvious car analogy is all those pickups and SUVs sold with some "off-road package" or whatever, but which are entirely unsuited to off-road use beyond a dirt road or maybe a beach.
      • This from a nick of "SmallFurryCreature" ....

    • by value_added (719364) on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:34AM (#21530949)
      For kicks, go to the women's section of your favorite department store and pick up a few jeans that are the same size (pick something that would fit you. Lane Bryant might be a good store choice). Take the jeans into a changing room and try them on. What you'll find is that even though the same size is printed on the label, the actual size varies from item to item.

      Dear Sir,

      I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the aforementioned post, namely, that Slashdot readers might consider trying on women's clothes. Many of my best friends are Slashdot readers, and only a few of them are transvestites.

      Moreover, while it is true that certain manufacturers of women's apparel mark down the size of a garment to a lower size to placate the buyer's desire for petiteness, there should be no shame for anyone relegated to shopping in the plus-sized aisles, or otherwise interested in purchasing a copy of Vista.

      Yours faithfully,
      Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs.)

      PS I have never kissed Cmdr Taco.
    • While your post wasn't half bad, I see why you picked that nickname.

    • by whoda (569082) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:20AM (#21531281) Homepage

      "In other words, always buy one size larger than you expect to fit. Also, always try the pants on before buying."

      Here's the problem:
      I don't know what size fits and Microsoft won't provide a dressing room to try the software on.
      Once purchased and opened so I can 'try it on' I can't return it if it is the wrong size.
    • Eh. I used to wr0k at a clothing factory and when cutting fabric, if you can't fit a "large" piece for something, you substitute a "medium" (and so on and so on)---primarily to save on fabric (it's a jigsaw puzzle where you layout the pieces, and then cut'em, and when some pieces don't perfectly fit, you use a smaller piece instead).

      It's well known. Experienced folks often adjust things by a fraction (so things will only be a quarter of an inch different, and not a whole size different). The labels still st
  • Uh, without RTA, it sounds like there was just some linguistic ambiguity. The word "any" is special that way.
  • by GroeFaZ (850443) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:44AM (#21530667)
    He Is Not A Lawyer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:20AM (#21530851)

      He Is Not A Lawyer.

      Neither are their fucking customers.

      'Vista Capable' isn't a catchy phrase, so it wasn't chosen for that reason. It's designed to dupe people. It's meaningless -- a stick of RAM is Vista /capable/. MS should get keelhauled for crap like this. To see it go to court rather than simply cause Consumer Disgust is a little bizarre, but having their own Marketing Director confused by it has got to be worth something.
  • MS sells what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThreeGigs (239452) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:45AM (#21530671)
    The case involves the way Microsoft marketed PCs

    Since when has MS been a computer retailer?

    I'd think that the class action would be against PC builders, who in turn would go after MS for misleading them into labeling a PC as Vista capable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by will_die (586523)
      Since when has MS been a computer retailer?

      For a long while now, however they are only sold in stores in Japan or Korea, don't remember which. that does not even include the xboxes but they are not being advertised as Vista ready.

      But back to the main item, the people sueing are saying that because Microsoft advertised that computers with the Vista Ready sticker were capable of running Vista that it is Microsofts fault and Microsoft was doing the misleading .
    • Re:MS sells what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rolgar (556636) on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:14AM (#21530809)
      Doesn't MS have a certification program or a set of standards that are required before the stickers can be put on a PC? Since the stickers are Microsoft's, and they are on a product carrying their OS, the certainly can be held responsible if their stickers convey inaccurate or misleading information.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:48AM (#21530693)
    Find out for yourself. Especially MS marketing is prone to lie, steal and cheat. And they have no clue about technology. Why people eat up every new "revolution" out of Redmont is beyond me. It is well known that MS products are unusable until they have has a few serious revisions/service packs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)
      And they have no clue about technology.

      Do you think it's reasonable that an average joe-user should expect that?
  • by idiotwithastick (1036612) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:51AM (#21530699)
    ... your own marketing director has no clue about the product he is actually trying to market. Who comes up with those stickers, anyways?
    • .. your own marketing director has no clue about the product he is actually trying to market.

      I'd say that this is almost always the case.

      If developers build a small 1 person helicopter, marketers will sell it as a space rocket (capable of going into space.)

    • Have you ever met a marketing director?
  • Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kawahee (901497) on Friday November 30, 2007 @07:52AM (#21530707) Homepage Journal
    Minimum System Requirements [microsoft.com]

    Windows Vista minimum supported system requirements

    Home Basic / Home Premium / Business / Ultimate
    * 800 MHz processor and 512 MB of system memory
    * 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
    * Support for Super VGA graphics
    * CD-ROM drive
    Any computer than can run Home Basic can run any other edition. Yes, you won't get Aero without a graphics card that supports DX9+ hardware acceleration, and performance won't be ideal but you will be able to run any edition of Windows - the (minimum) requirements are identical.

    The recommended requirements for Home Basic and the other editions are different, however. Please correct me if the Vista Capable sticker is only available to systems that meet the recommended system requirements (in which case Vista Capable != any edition), but I suspect that since Microsoft hasn't been afraid to cut corners before that it is awarded based on minimum system requirements and that Vista Capable is therefore universally applicable to all versions of Vista.
    • by jkrise (535370)
      I think Clington would've argued this case for Microsoft brilliantly:

      It all depends on the meaning of the word 'Capable'... and then
      It all depends on the meaning of the word 'Vista' ... and later
      It all depends on the meaning of the phrase 'Vista Capable' taken together.. ...your honour, I'm not finished yet!
    • Your argument would be more convincing if it weren't for the fact that in the "system requirements" listed for any software "recommended requirements" are in fact the minimum requirements, while minimum requirements are "if you have this, the box won't burst into flames. Probably."

      Chris Mattern
    • by geekoid (135745)
      If you advertise it with Aero, then the specs you list should be able to run AERO.

  • Well MS got a point (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:03AM (#21530749) Journal

    Google Windows Vista Capable and you get MS own page which currently states the following (Bold added for emphasis)

    Windows Vista Capable and Premium Ready PCs

    What is a Windows Vista Capable PC?

    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 Vistalike the new Windows Aero user experiencemay require advanced or additional hardware.

    A Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least:

    • A modern processor (at least 800MHz).
    • 512 MB of system memory.
    • A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.
    • Windows Vista Premium Ready PCs

    Some Windows Vista Capable PCs have been designated Premium Ready. These PCs will provide an even better Windows Vista experience, including the Windows Aero user experience. Features available in specific premium editions of Windows Vista, such as the ability to watch and record live TV, may require additional hardware.

    A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:

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

    I do NOT know if this page has been changed since the ad campaign was started but in its current form it is quit clear that Windows Vista Capable means just the bare bones of Vista and that if you want everything you need a Vista Premium Ready machine.

    Yes it is weasly, but that is marketing for you, buyer beware.

    Does anyone know if MS had the same text at launch, if so, then the case is without merit. If not then quit a few games are in trouble, because they ALWAYS show the screenshots at the highest setting, that may be impossible on the minimum requirements they list on the box.

    Now if you excuse me, I have to chastise myself for defending Microsoft.

    • by Kazymyr (190114)
      The wording on Microsoft's web site is quite inappropriate.

      Windows Vista minimum supported system requirements

      Home Basic / Home Premium / Business / Ultimate

      * 800 MHz processor and 512 MB of system memory
      * 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
      * Support for Super VGA graphics
      * CD-ROM drive


      I have a Personal Computer that fulfills these requirements.
    • Somehow I doubt all that text was on the "Vista Capable PC" stickers.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      So the buyer now has to go to the companies website to figure this out?
      That's just stupid. The buyer is in the shop, and the PC says it's capable of running Vista. It should run Vista as marketed. The sticker should say "Vista home Basic capable" at the very least.

      Ford can't say "This car gets 100 MPG" on a car, then on a web page someplace else have some small print that says "Users without a high tail wind my not achieve the stated millage."
  • Caveat Emptor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Graftweed (742763) on Friday November 30, 2007 @08:09AM (#21530783)

    It seems that more and more often we're returning to the good old days of caveat emptor. In the past few months I've seen quite a few number of shady advertisements that, if not exactly illegal, certainly push the boundaries of the law.

    Example: my cable company is running this huge ad campaign promising net access at X Mbps for $Y per month. Fantastic deal... until you read the fine print where it's stated that it's a time limited promotion and that after 6 months it's X/2 Mbps for $Y*2 per month, or something to that effect.

    Maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see and things have always been like this, but when MS starts arguing about the definition of "capable" and saying it's all explained in the fine print, it's a bit like saying "Well, you should have been more careful, you should have been aware of the fine print, it's all explained there." In other words, caveat emptor.

    It's like labeling a PC "Linux Capable", someone buys it after reading all the articles about compiz and bling and rotating cubes, is ultimately disappointed, goes to the vendor and gets told that the computer they just purchased can clearly run BusyBox, a version of Linux.

    • by moranar (632206)

      It seems that more and more often we're returning to the good old days of caveat emptor

      I wasn't aware we'd ever left those days.



    • by mpe (36238)
      It seems that more and more often we're returning to the good old days of caveat emptor. In the past few months I've seen quite a few number of shady advertisements that, if not exactly illegal, certainly push the boundaries of the law.

      Not just in the computer field. Recently I have noticed quite a few soft drinks which proclaim in big letters "No artificial flavourings", then state (in much smaller letters) that they contain Saccharin and/or Aspartame.
  • by PinkyDead (862370)
    We are getting closer and closer to the day where I actually feel sorry for Microsoft.

  • Mr markting man is right. You can run ANY version (well, not always 64 bit...) of vista on a "capable pc. But as the MS page [microsoft.com] explains you will experience only core functions (=same as "vista basic).

    There is no point buying premium, or ultimate on a capable pc, you pay too much ,UNLESS you upgrade hardware later.

    I am sure some people here can come up with a better word than "capable".
  • sounds much better and simpler. Is branding the only thing confusing about Vista? Hardware requirements, Multiple versions, User Access Control, DRM, New Features, Service Pack Release Date, Activation, Remote SwitchOff, Genuine (Dis)Advantage... etc.; the list is long of things very vague and confusing about Vista. Not just the Branding.
  • Quite a lot of PCs were sold with XP and labled as Vista Capable.

    This turns out to be a somewhat faulty statement, unless the manufacturer has made sure that there are Vista drivers for all the parts in the computer. Gets even better when the computer came with a voucher for Vista.

    Not fun working in a hotline
  • only being able to boot the OS up... and that was it... just get it to show the basic desktop... not that you could do anything glitzy with it... launching any program would immediately mean thrashing the disk as the OS started swapping stuff out to make way for what you were trying to run...

    however, it was only when you examined the small print on any advertisements for computers that you discovered this fact...

    case in point, PCWorld staff would say when questioned about a basic vista capable computer that

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:18AM (#21531969) Homepage Journal
    I'm fairly sure my old 8088 could "run" Windows 2.0. Does that mean I can call it "Vista capable"?
  • I'm capable of doing many tasks, but not good at all of them. From the recent benchmarks discussed on Slashdot, it would appear that Vista-capable should be expanded to Vista-just-barely-capable

    http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/vista-sp1-performance-dud.html [blogspot.com]

    http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/windows-xp-sp3-yields-performance-gains.html [blogspot.com]

    http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/update-re-testing-vista-w2gb-ram-office.html [blogspot.com]

    http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/how-to-make-vista-run-like-xp-sort-of.html [blogspot.com]

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