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The Courts Government Microsoft News

"Vista Capable" Lawsuit Is Now a Class Action 225

Posted by kdawson
from the go-to-the-head-of-the-class dept.
An anonymous reader notes an update in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporting that the lawsuit against Microsoft's "Windows Vista Capable" marketing campaign has been granted class-action status. We discussed the company's internal misgivings with this campaign a while back. The suit alleges that "...Microsoft unjustly enriched itself by promoting PCs as 'Windows Vista Capable' even when they could only run a bare-bones version of the operating system, called 'Vista Home Basic.'" In the 2006 pre-holiday season, Microsoft had placed "Windows Vista Capable" stickers on machines to keep the sale of Windows XP machines going after Vista was delayed. Microsoft didn't lose out totally in the recent ruling — the article notes that the judge "narrowed the basis on which plaintiffs could move forward with their claims."
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"Vista Capable" Lawsuit Is Now a Class Action

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  • Just barely Vista Capable machines crash with Vista just as quickly as fully maxed out speed demons do. Sometimes faster!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by obstalesgone (1231810)
      AH! This explains the claim that Vista is faster than XP. All this time I thought it was just marketing nonsense.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since when is Microsoft selling PC's? Or did they send someone around to go put those stickers on the machines?
    I'd have thought the hardware manufacturers would be the ones who didn't want sales to fall.

    I remember the same sort of campaign when XP came out. The laptop I bought then had an "XP capable" (or something that sounded similar) sticker on the box, even though it came with ME installed and with a voucher for a cheap XP Home upgrade when it came out. After having upgraded it and having seen the pe
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:18AM (#22533372) Homepage

      Since when is Microsoft selling PC's? Or did they send someone around to go put those stickers on the machines?
      I'd have thought the hardware manufacturers would be the ones who didn't want sales to fall.
      I agree that the hardware vendors should also share part of the blame. However, Microsoft designed the campaign, and in addition is responsible for the capabilities of Vista (for all the hardware manufacturers knew, it might get faster before it was released to the general public). Therefore, on the face of it, the case might have merit.


      I remember the same sort of campaign when XP came out. The laptop I bought then had an "XP capable" (or something that sounded similar) sticker on the box, even though it came with ME installed and with a voucher for a cheap XP Home upgrade when it came out. After having upgraded it and having seen the performance under XP, I reformatted it and downgraded. Not to ME, but to Win2000, which it still runs fine.
      Yes, this isn't entirely new. But that doesn't justify things in any way. In fact Microsoft should have learned from past experience and done things better this time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by memfrob (157990)

        In fact Microsoft should have learned from past experience and done things better this time.

        Well, let's see... last time they made money hand-over-fist, so why would they change things around?

    • by paganizer (566360) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:32AM (#22533574) Homepage Journal
      For some reason it still bothers me when people claim to have "downgraded" to Win2k. it's like saying you "Downgrade" from Vista to XP. How can it be a downgrade when your computer runs faster, you have less problems, etc?
    • "Cheap XP home"?

      Name one thing XP pro can do that XP home cannot that home users would be interested in.
      • home can not server up itself under remote desktop.

        perhaps not a majority, or even 10% but significant numbers of people would like the ability to rdc into their home machine from work or on the road.
        • That's hardly worth doubling the price. Especially as VNC or VNC+SSH (tightVNC & PuTTY are nice, free options) does the job more securely anyway.

          It's neither an option that home users are going to be interested in, nor is it an option that they are particularly excluded from. The "remote assistance" feature has nearly the same functionality, though it's a little harder to initiate. Furthermore, if you've ever run remote desktop sessions (like, say, remote X) you'd know that "on the road" really isn't
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbengt (874751)

        Name one thing XP pro can do that XP home cannot that home users would be interested in.

        1. Remote desktop
        2. Multi-processor (2) support
        3. IIS web server
        4. File-level access controls
        5. Multi-language support
        6. Various networking features (granted, in 2001 these wouldn't have been very popular at home)

        Oops, you only asked for one. Anyway,

        Some more here: http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/windowsxp_home_pro.asp/ [winsupersite.com]
        and here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/home/howtobuy/choosing2.mspx/ [microsoft.com]

        • 1. Remote desktop
          See my other reply. It's useful, but not a home user feature. And it doesn't even accomplish what the people using it really want, anyway.
          2. Multi-processor (2) support
          At the time XP came out, and for about half of its life cycle, multi-core processors weren't even available to home users, and multiple processor mainboards were squarely in the realm of professionals and en
      • by TheLink (130905)
        Better access control.
        Group policy to help lockdown accounts on a shared PC.
        Automated System Recovery (but does that really work? :) ).

        Some home users might be interested in encryption but I don't have much confidence in EFS being suitable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nodan (1172027)
      Of course, MS is not selling hardware. In a reasonable world, users should not care too much about the operating system but should care about the hardware performance and the applications they can run. However, the world is not reasonable at all and the "Vista Capable" campaign is the usual spread of fear and exploitation of computer users. Fear, because it implies not having Vista might be a disadvantage, and exploitation, because people are asked to pay for stuff they don't need at all which even works t
  • Ugh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rindeee (530084) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:18AM (#22533124)
    I hate class action suits. They do next to no good for the consumer save for putting a couple (literally) bucks in the pocket, benefit lawyers almost exclusively and in the end make products cost more. I hate Vista, and I don't care for (and therefor do not use the products produced by) Microsoft but this is going to do little good in the long run.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DustyShadow (691635) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:39AM (#22533218) Homepage
      True but without class actions are really the only way to punish companies when it would be way too costly for a single person to go after them. I consider class actions to be necessary evils.
      • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:10AM (#22533332) Journal
        [CA's only benefit lawyers] True but without class actions are really the only way to punish companies when it would be way too costly for a single person to go after them. I consider class actions to be necessary evils.

        Agreed. It's about the only way to punish big greedy companies enough to make them think twice the next time. I wish we could find an alternative, but so far none exists. If somebody can come up with a better way, please state it. What we have in CA's is better than fly-spec individual suits. Basically this is the current options:

        A. Move a very little bit of perpetrator's money to consumer (individual suits)
        B. Move a lot of perpetrator's money to lawyers and a little bit to consumers. (class-action)
        C. Don't do anything.
        D. Make Gates and Balmer do the Chicken Dance on American Idol.

        Until E is invented, B is the best choice. (Okay, D is not viable, I admit. Besides, Balmer seems to like dancing funny.)
             
        • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MikeyVB (787338) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:13AM (#22533532)

          E. Revoke their charter of incorporation.

          I bet they would start to get the point after the first few.

        • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Solandri (704621) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:46AM (#22533630)

          B. Move a lot of perpetrator's money to lawyers and a little bit to consumers. (class-action)
          Tier the rate lawyers get paid. For awards up to, say, $1 million, they get 33%. For the fraction of awards between $1-$10 million, they get 10%. Between $10-$100 million they get 3%. Over $100 million, they get 1%. Over $1 billion they get 0.1% ($1 million per $1 billion awarded). Right now they get 33% of everything, which is flat out ridiculous. A class action reduces the lawyers' workload by taking advantage of efficiencies of scale, their compensation should be reduced to reflect that.

          Also, punitive awards should go to the government - either regulatory agencies or law enforcement, not the victims. The victims already get compensatory damages to compensate them for their suffering. The punitive damages are designed to punish the guilty, and should go to society as recompense for violating the public trust. The U.S. court system is currently biased against punitive damages because often even when the defendant deserves to have to pay, the victim doesn't deserve the money so the court system errs on the side of the defendant. This change would help fix that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jamesh (87723)

            Also, punitive awards should go to the government - either regulatory agencies or law enforcement, not the victims.

            I've had the same thoughts before, that the defendant deserves to get punished, but that the victim doesn't deserve to be rewarded to that degree. My solution would be that the victim gets to nominate a charity and the money gets directed to them.

            I wonder how that would change our court-happy society - if the victim knew that even if they won, they'd only more or less get compensated for their

      • by mpe (36238)
        True but without class actions are really the only way to punish companies when it would be way too costly for a single person to go after them.

        What about lots of small claims? The plaintiffs can file these in person, but the corporation must pay a lawyer to deal with them.
        • by Detritus (11846)
          They can just not bother showing up, receive a default judgment, and not pay. How are you going to collect on your judgment?
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:51AM (#22533264)
      I guess you don't understand the purpose of a class action. The purpose is never to benefit the consumer. The purpose is to punish the target of the class action. That is a valid purpose in a situation like this where the individual losses of the consumer were negligible but, in aggregate, add up to a significant amount.

      No reasonable person is going to file an individual lawsuit against Microsoft because of this because the amount of money they could recover (if they win) is less than the value of the time it would take to file in small claims court, prepare the evidence, take a day off work...heck, it's not even worth the effort of typing it all out. But does that mean Microsoft should be off the hook? No. That's where the class action comes in.
      • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
        In this particular case, the consumer would be best served by filing a Small Claims Court action. At most, the consumer lost $300.

        A class action would be perfect for things like drug companies failing to test a drug and killing people. Or insurance companies dropping coverage after a disease is discovered.

        However, in 99% of class-actions, the *best* situation would be to have a Federal prosecutor charge the CEO and Board Members with committing a crime. Throw their asses in jail and you'd see a lot of co
      • All well and good, but why, then, do the lawyers profit from the punishment more than those who were actually hurt by the problem? I wouldn't even care about making money from the deal, but to get a few dollars or a coupon in the mail over something that may have cost me hundreds of dollars while the bad behavior was going on is insulting and is certainly not just.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by coaxial (28297) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:51AM (#22533646) Homepage

      I hate class action suits. They do next to no good for the consumer save for putting a couple (literally) bucks in the pocket, benefit lawyers almost exclusively and in the end make products cost more.
      You don't understand the point of class action lawsuits.

      It's not compensation, it's punishment. Punishment for bad behavior is good. It makes companies think twice about conducting bad behavior in the future. It's essentially a civil fine. Lawyers making money? Well look, for members of the class, it is essentially free money. You fill out online form, and then you wait for a check. That's it.

      but this is going to do little good in the long run.
      If it makes them not knowingly [slashdot.org] engage in an extremely confusing (at best) and deceptive (at worse) campaign, then it would have achieved it's goal.

      "B-b-b-but it's a lawsuit! and Lawyers are Evil(tm)!!!11!eleventy-one!11!" you say. If you don't bring civil suits, how do you expect private citizens assert their rights and correct the behavior of those who have wronged them? Unless of course, you think that people shouldn't be able to defend themselves. Do you believe that?
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:57AM (#22533660) Homepage
      Entirely false. Class action law suits do not add one cent to the price of a product. I am sick of this same lie being spread over and over again, just like piracy does not add one cent to the price of a product. It is all supply and demand, greedy corporations charge as much as they possible can, there is absolutely no limit to their greed, 100%, 1000%, 10000% markups not a problem at all.

      It is well known that M$ puts a huge margin of the price of windows, which is why it so agressively and currptly purseus a monopoly to protect the absurd profit margins. So the more 'profit' eating, capital reserve draining class action law suits the better, who cares if it only enricghes a bunch of lawyers, as long as it bleeds M$ dry, and maybe, just maybe, finally forces some respect out of M$ for the customer.

      • by HardCase (14757)
        Yeah! They're currpt! Enricgh the lawyers!
      • by toddestan (632714)
        Entirely false. Class action law suits do not add one cent to the price of a product. I am sick of this same lie being spread over and over again, just like piracy does not add one cent to the price of a product. It is all supply and demand, greedy corporations charge as much as they possible can, there is absolutely no limit to their greed, 100%, 1000%, 10000% markups not a problem at all.

        You may be right in cases like MS Windows, where Microsoft has the market wrapped pretty nicely for Windows, and charge
  • by iamacat (583406) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:56AM (#22533288)
    Judge granted a class action status to a lawsuit of customers against a company selling an "under a thousand dollars" TV for $999.95
    • Re:In other news (Score:5, Informative)

      by vux984 (928602) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:12AM (#22533526)
      Judge granted a class action status to a lawsuit of customers against a company selling an "under a thousand dollars" TV for $999.95

      It would be a more apt analagy if said TVs were could only average 10 frames per second, american idol was too taxing on the set for it even to start. This line of TVs was also heavily advertised as having 5.1 surround sound playback, a remote and very shiny sexy digital knobs going to 300 channels but when you got it hom and set it up there was no remote, and you had to change channels by turning a 13 channel knob. Oh, and there was no sound either. none. not 5.1, not even mono.

      Such a unit may meet the barest qualifications of being a TV, but any reasonable consumer who got such a thing home would feel justifiably ripped off and return it immediately.

      But the insidious part of Vista capable, was that they bought it on the promise that it would run vista when it came out, and when Vista came out, they found out that their reasonable expection of 'run vista' was not met, but they were now entirely unable to return the computer, and even downgrading is a 'reformat from scratch' procedure.

      They feel ripped off, justifiably, in my opinon, and they want their money back.

      If bought a computer that "ran Vista", and ended up with a computer that could only run Vista Home Basic... and did even that poorly, then I'd take it back. These people can't. And hence there is a lawsuit.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Can't they return it? I don't know about US consumer protections, but here in the UK an item must be 'as described'. A computer described as vista capable that could not run vista would not fit this description and be able to be returned for a full refund.
        • by Detritus (11846)
          You would probably have to go to small claims court to force the merchant to accept a return or pay damages. Otherwise, they will just point to the sign that says "no returns after N days".
          • In the UK, such signs are actually illegal if they attempt to give the customer less than the law does. (Pointing this out mid-dispute is usually enough to get them to change their tune, particularly if they in fact pointed to it mid-dispute. http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ [tradingstandards.gov.uk] is the best website ever.)
            • by vux984 (928602)
              In the case of 'vista capable' computers, it will have been multiple months. So returning to the merchant is not really feasible.
    • by toddestan (632714)
      I don't see it as that unreasonable, since it would be pretty much impossible to actually acquire that TV for under $1000.00 after paying tax/shipping/fees etc. on the purchase. While the TV example isn't the best, I can think of other examples, such as phone service or new cars, where the advertised prices are nothing like what you actually pay to get the service or item.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:45AM (#22533446) Homepage Journal
    1. Honey, should we buy a new computer now?
    2. No, Vista is about to come out, we should wait.
    3. But this computer over here says "Vista Capable" on it.. we can upgrade when Vista comes out.
    4. Ok, let's trust the advertising and buy now.
    5. [time passes]
    6. [more time passes]
    7. [yet, MORE time passes]
    8. Honey, Vista has finally come out.
    9. You're fucking with me.
    10. No really! Let's upgrade.
    11. Ok, which of the 400 versions of Vista should we upgrade to?
    12. Oh, seems that our machine can only run Vista Basic.
    13. Those bastards!! Call the lawyers.
    14. Meanwhile, the rest of the world makes it blatantly obvious that *all* version of Vista blow, not just Basic.
    15. ???
    16. Profit.

    This did not really happen.

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      This did not really happen.

      Bet it did. Thousands of times.

      Well, apart from step 16 (unless you meant the profit that MS made).
  • oh yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DSVaughan (1007255) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:48AM (#22533638)
    Recently bought a laptop that came with vita home premium. Look at the "Windows Experience Index", and am getting about 60 percent of what I could be. Brand new laptop, meets all recommended requirements (except video card) for vista ultimate, and I still only get a 60%. I also see computers that are less than a quarter as powerful as that laptop being sold with vista on them. There should be at least a minimum spec increase to certify the hardware as vista enabled. Like you can run XP Pro on as low as a 233 MHz core, with 128 Mb ram, and 1.5 GB of hard drive. It will run, just about as fast as the mold growing in Antarctica. It runs, but you can't do more than idle without it freezing up on you. Therefore, in my opinion, you should change the minimum system requirements so that you could at least open notepad within 5 minutes.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Try SP1. They seem to have removed quite a bit of the bloat... no seriously. SP1 is what *should* have been released as Vista. The UI still blows and it still runs at half the speed of XP on a brand new laptop, but compared to the original it's like night and day, as the base footprint is down to about 350mb so it's not constantly thrashing with 2GB of RAM.
      • http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/07/1911213 [slashdot.org]

        "PC World ran the final version of Windows Vista SP1 through a first set of tests last night. Here's the bottom line: 'File copying, one of the main performance-related complaints from Vista users, was significantly faster. But other tests showed little improvement and, in two tests, our experience was actually a little better without the service pack installed than with it.'"
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          Odd. I'm no lover of Vista but pre-SP1 it was *completely* unusable in 2GB. Post SP1 it's still very slow but the reduced memory footprint means that it's not in swap all the time, so it seems better. Plus they've fixed some of the more annoying bugs.

          I don't get the file copying bit at all. The problem was it didn't work, not that it was slow - copying multiple files would abort halfway with no warning, and trying to copy would invoke about 6 UAC warnings. Copy speed was *not* the issue.

          Have you actual
          • by TheLink (130905)
            "I might have to revise my stance of refusing point blank to support it if a friend asks for help"

            Heh, if a friend/relative asks me for help on Vista, I'll only help if their hardware supports Windows XP. Go figure :).

            In theory I could install a Linux distro for them, but so far I don't think Linux is suitable for them yet.

            But setting up Windows XP properly on a _personal_ computer does take quite a lot of time - the amount of updates you have to download, configuring it decently, installing drivers, codecs
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SEMW (967629)

      Look at the "Windows Experience Index", and am getting about 60 percent of what I could be.

      Ummm, 60% of what?

      There is no maximum value. To quote Raymond Chen: "Imagine what the world would be like if there were a max value. What happens if the max is 10 and you buy a 10 computer, and then an even faster computer comes out next year - what rating does that computer yet?" (source [msdn.com]).

      The max you can get on today's absolute best hardware may be around 5.9, but that's not the top end of a scale -- it will certainly increase with time as better hardware comes out and WEI is updated with newer benc

      • by toddestan (632714)
        At some point, you're going have a computer so fast that everything is going to be pretty much instantaneous with everything maxed out. You might as well set that to be the max value, because at that point, it doesn't matter how much more hardware you throw at OS, the "experience" is going to be the same. I think that's part of the problem with Vista, as we've already reached that point for XP, and people are used to that level of responsiveness.
  • Class Action Blows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Flash0424 (1231554)
    There are so many things in this world that fall into this similar pattern, but it's always (mostly) MS that gets hit with it. It annoys me, because the judges that OK these lawsuits don't have a clue about technology (mostly) and are making decisions based on guesses and their 'gut feeling' that day. It scares me because these same judges are dismissing real law, or not allowing things into the courtroom, arbitrarily (and again, depending on their mood)... As an example, I recently purchased a car stere
  • Vista Home Basic is basically Vista minus Areo.

    So directly comparable to Windows XP Home. It's for people that don't have 3d acceleration, but want the rest.

    Therefore it's still Vista, and Vista 'capable' seems like a reasonable tag for me.
  • by mathnerd314 (1212880) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @08:18AM (#22534334)

    I bought a computer with a "Vista Capable" sticker, which had only 512 MB of RAM. Now, according to Dell [dell.com], such a configuration is "Great for... Booting the Operating System, without running applications or games".

    Which, incidentally, was pretty much all I could do.

  • Why not just put a "Turing Machine!!!" sticker on the computer, saying that it can theoretically run any software, via emulation, if you are willing to wait long enough.
  • Not too long ago, I decided to install MacOS 10.4 on a crappy little test machine at work, an old 400mhz G4. I was expecting very cut-down graphics and little-to-no effects, but the ancient thing actually picked up my widescreen LCD's native resolution (something Windows still struggles with), and all the smooth eye-candy was intact. Windows slide and fade in and out of view, transparency works like a charm, even the dashboard runs pretty smoothly (slight stuttering during the fade, but nothing terrible).
    • I ran 10.4 on a 500 MHz G3 iBook with 384 Megabytes of Ram. It was usable, but it wasn't a joy to use. Because the graphics card couldn't accelerate Quartz, Expose was kind of slow..

      10.5 can't be used on such a machine. I have 10.5 it on my 1.2 GHz G4 with 1280 Megabytes-- and the extra memory is very useful here. At the same time, however, it's not 100% up to speed. Most of the "eye candy", is turned off. I don't really miss it. Every so often though, it slows down to a crawl-- it's probably the fault of t
    • by SEMW (967629)

      Not too long ago, I decided to install MacOS 10.4 on a crappy little test machine at work, an old 400mhz G4. ... and all the smooth eye-candy was intact. Windows slide and fade in and out of view, transparency works like a charm.

      Your point? Alpha transparency has been supported in Windows since Windows 2000 and certainly doesn't require hardware acceleration. Ditto sliding and fading -- both things that Windows XP menus did by default way before hardware accelerated window management. But any effects that require hardware acceleration -- e.g. pixel shader 2.0 blurring, as used in Aero Glass's title bars or OS X 10.5's top menu bar -- won't work: if you installed Leopard on that PC, the menubar won't be blurry-translucent, and i

  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @10:19AM (#22535034) Homepage

    ... that the judge orders Microsoft to do all testing for all versions of Vista and all versions of the next OS they market on these computers they identify as "Vista Capable".

    It would never happen. Microsoft will test the next OS home version on dual-socket octal-core 4-GHz 64-bit processesors with 16-GB RAM and 4-way RAID-0 SATA-6 drive arrays.

  • By my recollection, you need a computer built more than five years after the Windows OS you want to run. My 2007 work PC still struggles a little with XP. The Windows Vista Capable program should have started in 2011.
  • Microsoft has lost several court cases on multiple continents over it's unfair business practices and various consumer frauds. to put it into terms of a natural person, it's out on probation. Would you buy a car from someone who's currently on probation for crimes in connection with selling cars?

    MS has piles of money and STILL hasn't been able to buy it's way entirely out of trouble even though the prosecution has mysteriously torpedoed itself more than once. They're like the richest man in town that ever

  • How to get a better working computer:

    If the computer you bought doesn't work to your satisfaction, return it to where you bought it, and raise hell until you get a refund!

    Remember, you're not Microsoft's customer, You're Dell's, Walmart's, Target's, Best Buy's, whoever you bought the computer from's customer.

    THEY are Microsoft's customers. If THEY have to keep refunding THEIR sales, THEY will raise hell with Microsoft, and then Microsoft will either listen, or THEY will switch vendors.

    (Notice how many compu

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