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Microsoft 'Vista Capable' Settlement Cost Could Be Over $8 Billion 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-seinfeld-look-like-chump-change dept.
bk- writes with news that documents from the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit against Microsoft indicate the software giant could be on the hook for as much as $8.52 billion in upgrade costs. "[University of Washington economist Keith] Leffler came up with his total upgrade costs by calculating how much it would cost to upgrade each of the 19.4 million PCs with 1 GB of memory and graphics cards or onboard chipsets able to run Aero, according to Keizer. Leffler put the maximum cost of upgrading the desktops at $155, while positing that the notebooks' integrated graphics would be more tricky to replace and would cost between $245 and $590 per unit. The total price tag for Microsoft would thus range from $3.92 billion to $8.52 billion and in some cases would include complete replacements of notebooks that could not be feasibly upgraded, Leffler testified. Microsoft in its response argued that giving litigants 'a free upgrade to Premium-ready PCs would provide a windfall to millions.'"
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Microsoft 'Vista Capable' Settlement Cost Could Be Over $8 Billion

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:23PM (#26590463) Homepage Journal

    Hardware makers should be on the hook as well.

  • Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:25PM (#26590481) Homepage

    Microsoft in its response argued that giving litigants 'a free upgrade to Premium-ready PCs would provide a windfall to millions.'

    I guess you shouldn't have lied, then. Let this be a lesson to you.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:26PM (#26590489) Journal

    Hardware makers should be on the hook as well.

    Microsoft is the one that had the final word on labeling standards for "Vista capable".

    Hardware makers lobbied hard to get the sticker applied to hardware that couldn't support Aero & Microsoft caved.

  • by emailandthings (844006) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:27PM (#26590499)
    So dont upgrade!... and have M$ keep fixing XP until 2012+ That should be the judge's order. Fact is M$ Vista adds 0 value to me, my company, or your country's GDP..
  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:32PM (#26590551) Homepage
    No, its Microsoft program that determines if the sticker can go on the PC.

    Sure hardware people asked for it. But it's the same as if your friend tells you that you should con people out of money. You choose to do it so it's your fault.
  • by Bozovision (107228) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:34PM (#26590569) Homepage

    Microsoft in its response argued that giving litigants 'a free upgrade to Premium-ready PCs would provide a windfall to millions.

    Whereas, of course, others would argue that the litigants provided a windfall of billions to Microsoft by purchasing Vista on a Vista Capable machine.

  • by Meshach (578918) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:44PM (#26590663)
    Vista wasn't available to general people but I would think/hope that OEM had access to some alpha/beta/per-release version to test their tools against. Since MS makes piles of money from OEM vendors I would think they would help them out.
  • by gillbates (106458) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:04PM (#26590823) Homepage Journal

    Having followed class action suits before, the outcome most likely is that the lawyers will get paid exorbitant fees, and the plaintiffs will get discount coupons for their next Windows upgrade.

    Discount coupons and vouchers are the way almost all class action suits are resolved. Very seldom do the plaintiffs actually recover monetary damages.

  • by RattFink (93631) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:06PM (#26590849) Journal

    They then stick my endorsement on their junk, and the customer gets ripped off by my friends.

    There is a big difference between endorsing something and making a guarantee of fitness towards a certain task. Saying your friend's snake oil is great and I like it is perfectly fine but telling people it'll cure cancer will get you in a world of trouble.

  • by Darundal (891860) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:16PM (#26590937) Journal
    ...those figures for upgrades seem kind of inflated. These are all systems that were "certified" to be Vista (Basic) Capable, so it shouldn't cost that much for a 512mb ram stick and an el-cheapo graphics card for a desktop. If his estimates included installation by a "trained professional" then I would still be willing to bet it would be significantly lower, because they would probably work out a major group discount with a company (probably Best Buy) which would still bring the cost significantly lower. For laptops, I have no idea, although I would be willing to bet that costs would be individually lower than he quoted too (willing to bet that most of them have integrated capable of Aero, just not enough RAM), although some systems would have to be replaced. If that was how damages to be awarded were to be determined, of course. Considering this is a class action suit, what will probably happen is they will make a coupon available for X amount of money off your next purchase of MS software, and probably some other product as well.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:21PM (#26590985)

    I agree. This is all about legal fees.

  • Crazy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:23PM (#26591011)
    The entire Vista OS-cum-fiasco is so much more ridiculous than Windows ME, it's boggling my mind!!
  • by Korin43 (881732) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:34PM (#26591145) Homepage
    When you market something as "capable of running Windows Vista", you don't generally mean "it'll start up eventually and if you're really patient you can use programs for it". "Capable of running Windows Vista" means, in a normal person's mind, that it runs Vista similarly to how it's shown in the ad (with Aero, not super slow,etc.).
  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by torkus (1133985) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:42PM (#26591243)

    Should they be held responsible? Yes. For the cost of the operating system that's not compatible. The computer itself is just fine - they got exactly the hardware they paid for - no more, no less.

    Make MS give them a free upgrade/sidegrade/downgrade to a working operating system compatible with their hardware. The idea that MS should pay for hardware upgrades is plain old silly.

  • Re:Well. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:43PM (#26591261)
    yeah it has to be one of the dumbest defenses ever conceived by lawyers: "Ruling against us would be a big benefit to the other side at our expense"
  • by LilGuy (150110) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:51PM (#26591357)

    For starters, Bill Gates isn't running the company anymore.

    And that's pretty bad business. See, the minions and peons of a country are the only ones who are shamed and goaded into being "patriotic". Corporations cannot be bothered by such sentiments or they will wither and die, or so the common sense of today would suggest.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:54PM (#26591415) Journal

    But they don't. That's the problem. From MSFT's own press releases and ads all they talked about was Aero. Everywhere you saw Aero this and Aero that. Hell if you read the emails you would know that there were higher ups in management complaining that they were burned as well. Why? Because they bought "Vista Capable" and didn't know that they wouldn't get Aero. So if guys within the company itself got burned, what chance did the non tech consumer have?

    And let us be honest here: Vista Basic is the "Cleetus the slack jawed yokel" of the Vista line. It is just too crippled. Pretty much all Vista Basic gives you is the annoyance of UAC without any of the pretty. No wonder the customers aren't happy campers. I'm personally shocked that they aren't selling Vista Basic for less than $50 just to move some product. Maybe they didn't make enough copies to make it worth selling, who knows. I do know that talking to the guys at places like BB and Staples that Vista Basic just sits there and rots on the shelf. While none of the Vista line is moving in large numbers according to them Vista Basic doesn't move any at all. Nobody wants it.

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdotNO@SPAMdavidgerard.co.uk> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:55PM (#26591425) Homepage
    That hiking of license costs is likely to be unfeasible. Note that they credit their most recent failure to meet financial targets to netbooks, i.e. $0 XP on netbooks to keep Linux out. Linux isn't going away. Suddenly there's competition in the OEM OS market, and Microsoft can only get away with charging for an OS what it's actually worth as a product.
  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:24PM (#26591755)

    Erm - so they lie to you, saying the machine will be perfectly capable of running Feature X, and when it doesn't you think they should only have to give you the money Feature X cost?

    Wow. Whats silly again?

    They lied to shift hardware. To avoid pissing off Intel. They therefore need to give you WHAT YOU PAID FOR - you paid for a machine that was stated it could run Aero capably, so you should get that. No more No less.

    Maybe then corporations won't lie in order to shift old hardware?

  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neumayr (819083) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:28PM (#26591797)

    The computer itself is just fine - they got exactly the hardware they paid for - no more, no less.

    But that hardware was advertised as something else. The customer can't be expected to know if they're being lied to by looking at the specs.
    They wanted Vista, it said it can run Vista on the computer's box, and it didn't work. Just giving them some other OS is silly, suggesting it is arrogant.

  • Re:Haha yeah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bearhouse (1034238) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:28PM (#26591803)

    Oh c'mon. Windows server works very well, so does BSD/Linux... The old argument was that you could not get professional support, trained staff or robust add-ins and applications for Linux - no longer true...

    So you pays your money, (or not, meh), and takes your chance.

  • by gregorio (520049) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:54PM (#26592019)
    The only complaint of this frivolous lawsuit is the fact that Vista Basic does not contain "the actual features considered as Vista-defining such as Aero and other features". This is just about a bunch of lawyers trying to get shitloads of money from a class action suit.

    There is no deception here. The computers labeled as "Vista Capable" were, in fact, able of running Vista Basic. They were not labeled "Aero Capable" or anything like that.

    I used to own a "Designed for Microsoft Windows 2000" workstation. Should I sue Microsoft for not being able to run Windows 2000 Advanced Server at full clustering capabilities? Anyone buying any piece of hardware is responsible of knowing that they might not be able to run the most advanced version any product family. What's next? Suing EA or Valve for not being able to run Crysis at full settings using the minimum system specs? I mean, 1900x1200 with 4xAA and advanced shading is what I consider "the Crysis defining features".

    Even if the computers were labeled as "Aero compatible" and Microsoft called the new Windowing theme as "Aero" (with or without the transparency), there would be no reason for a lawsuit. But they didn't. They called these computers "Vista Capable" and they were, in fact, capable of running a version of Windows Vista.

    I'm sorry but even though sometimes Microsoft gives me the creeps, lawyers can be even worse. And class action suit lawyers are the worst ones of all, they're just looking for a jackpot suit so they can retire and buy a boat.
  • Re:Haha yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:05PM (#26592159) Journal

    I'll give you 50 cents for every dollars worth of MS stock.

    As for the trial:

    What will happen is the same thing happens in most of these cases. Microsoft will settle and provide a "consumer redress" arrangement, and then start handing-out $20 checks to whoever applies before Dec 31, 2009. The end.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:06PM (#26592165) Homepage

    I'd mod you up

    The previous post was an anonymous crapflood whining that Slashdot "is irrelevant, the editors have no talent, and the news sucks!". The rest of the post just goes downhill from there. It is blatantly offtopic, it very may well be a deliberate troll, and even at +1 Funny it is overrated.

    but thanks to Slashdot's groupthink enforcement mechanism, metamoderation, I am no longer allowed to moderate.

    Surprise surprise, considering the above.

    But in any case, your post is currently sitting at +4 Interesting, so I will respond to it semi seriously. Ok, are you (1) deliberately trolling for the Slashdot-discussion-sucks point of the original anonymous crapflood? Or are you (2) just whining for the sake of whining? Or do you (3) have something productive to contribute? Because I for one find the Slashdot moderation and metamod system invaluable. Imperfect yes, but invaluable. I read a lot of Slashdot, I value the posts, but the only thing making it manageable is using the imperfect mod system to read at +3 most of the time.

    If (1) you were Trolling, congratulations on baiting in a couple of frustrated mods, and thereby baiting in my post. See my final paragraph on that.
    If (2) you're whining for the sake of whining, awwwwwww poor baby. The system is indeed imperfect, but if the system smacked you down there is a strong chance you deserved it, even if you don't think so. And even if you didn't deserve it, oh well. The system is valuable and works pretty well, albeit imperfectly. You are heartily invited to move on to option 3.
    If (3) you think the system unfairly smacked you down, and you have any sort of productive suggestion on how to fix it, swell! Try posting that instead of a naked whine.

    And to the mods, in my opinion my own post is offtopic and I don't mind if you mod it as such. I really don't care if my post is modded down to -1, but please first mod down the worthless whine post above and the grandparent Slashdot_sucks crapflood. I really don't need the karma. I get dozens and dozens of upmods for each downmod(usually for making a botched attempt at humor). Mod the crap out of sight, and then if you like mod this out of sight along with it.

    -

  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:14PM (#26592245) Journal

    No, you're wrong.

    The original meaning of the "Vista Capable" sticker was that the hardware could be UPGRADED to handle every feature of Vista. "Vista Ready" meant that it could handle it (Aero & WDDM) as is, without upgrades.

    Much of the hardware labeled "Vista Capable" could NOT be upgraded to handle WDDM and Aero. Specifically, Intel 915 and 915GM chipsets were not WDDM capable and WOULD NEVER BE. Intel wanted Microsoft to delay the program until they got their next chipset out, about 5 months. That one would be WDDM capable. Microsoft, instead, just lowered the specs for the program and told Intel it was basically "just a sticker on the box". HP was absolutely furious with this tactic, since their stuff was all ready.

    In short, the marketing department flat out lied to people. Microsoft SHOULD be on the hook for providing those people with "Vista Capable" hardware with the proper upgrades that they promised would happen. In the case of Intel 915GM laptops, that means a new laptop since you can't upgrade the chipset.

    A slap on the wrist won't give MS or anyone else pause before pulling this sort of stunt again. They need a good kick in the groin and enough pain to make them understand that profiting from outright fraud will not be tolerated.

  • Re:Well. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:22PM (#26592315) Homepage Journal

    So is MS now supposed to not trust the hardware makers when they are told by said hardware vendor that this particular flavor of product WILL run the fanciness?

    When Microsoft allows those authorised stickers they are certifying that the hardware with those logos will in fact meet the requirements. With all of the hoopla about the new desktop with the 3D features (which are a crock. I run Compiz-Fusion and THAT environment has 3D effects. A single scrolling 3D task switcher != 3D desktop, IMHO) Joe Sixpack is led to believe that they will be able to reap those benefits with the Microsoft endorsement.

    Have you ANY experience with the Windows Logo and other similar programs? You have to meet a set of requirements in order to be allowed to display those logos. There is a certification process and everything.

    Should Joe Sixpack have to read the specs, or should Joe Sixpack be able to rely on the what Microsoft's PR is announcing?

    It's the latter. It's similar to auto PR. I won't buy a new GM, ever (I might consider used), because they publicly announced they would support a certain car with parts availability, tech support, etc. for a minimum of 20 years after production ends, and they were discontinuing parts left and right before the warranties ran out - including critical safety and emissions parts, AND they never, ever copped to the manufacturing defects which resulted in delaminating windshields. If I ever need and ignition module or catalytic converter, I'm screwed - they are not available new from GM at any price. :( So, I am voting with my wallet and buying either Ford or foreign (most likely toyota for normal cars, Porsche or Lotus if I ever buy another sportscar) from now on.

    People should do the same to Microsoft - if they will not live up to what they obligated themselves to through their PR and advertising channels, then they should vote with their wallets and choose Apple or Linux or another non-Microsoft solution. Hit Microsoft where it hurts, and that is what this suit is about. It's not about getting "free" hardware - it is all about holding Microsoft up to their obligations.

  • by Adambomb (118938) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:46PM (#26592533) Journal

    This is redundant as it appears in a bunch of other comments, but given the amount of redundancy of the error i'll give this one another go.

    Note that the problem with the Vista Capable program was that it was labeling systems BEFORE VISTA WAS AVAILABLE.

    The hardware vendors did NOT have the means to test anything and although they may have 'bullied' microsoft into lowering the spec requirement, the onus was on microsoft to tell them "uh no, that just wont work.".

  • by thesupraman (179040) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:12PM (#26592799)

    So I assume then that you would not mind if you bought a new car, then afterwards found out that you could not drive it on the freeway because it was not able to get past 40 and started falling appart if you tried?

    There were adds showing off 'Vista' primarily as aero, but then when it shipped, there was vista basic, which in no way resembled the 'Vista' people has got excited about, and bought computers claiming to support.

    Its close to a delayed bait-and-switch - unload old machines based on a promise, then say 'oops, time to upgrade!'

    Microsoft didnt sell the old machines, but they did provide the opportunity here.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:53PM (#26593207)

    It was Dell inducing me to purchase a computer using "Vista ready" in their advertising, not Microsoft. Now Microsoft might have duped them by having poor specs in their sticker program, but that's a matter between Dell and Microsoft---the matter for me is that Dell sold me a computer with a false advertising claim on it.

  • by wellingj (1030460) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:22PM (#26594059)

    And that's pretty bad business. See, the minions and peons of a country are the only ones who are shamed and goaded into being "patriotic". Corporations cannot be bothered by such sentiments or they will wither and die, or so the common sense of today would suggest.

    It's true. But only because of the modern misconception of patriotism. From the Wiki [wikipedia.org]

    Patriotism is commonly defined as love of and/or devotion to one's country. The word comes from the Latin, patria, and Greek patritha. However, "patriotism," or the love of one's country, has come to have different meanings over time. Thus, the meaning of patriotism can be highly dependent upon context, geography and philosophy.

    Although used in certain vernaculars as a synonym for nationalism, nationalism is not considered an inherent part of patriotism. Among the ancient Greeks, patriotism of notions concerning language, religious traditions, ethics, law and devotion to the common good, rather than pure identification with a nation-state. Scholar J. Peter Euben writes that for the Greek philosopher Socrates, "patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be."

    During the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, the notion of patriotism continued to be separate from the notion of nationalism. Instead, patriotism was defined as devotion to humanity and beneficence. For example, providing charity, criticizing slavery, and denouncing excessive penal laws were all considered patriotic. In both ancient and modern visions of patriotism, individual responsibility to fellow citizens is an inherent component of patriotism.

    Many contemporary notions of patriotism are influenced by 19th century ideas about nationalism. During the 19th century, "being patriotic" became increasingly conflated with nationalism, and even jingoism. However, some notions of contemporary patriotism reject nationalism in favor of a more classic version of the idea of patriotism which includes social responsibility.

    I don't believe that welfare is patriotic, nor is buying American made products simply because they are American. I believe patriotism is the love of the ideals and customs that make your country great. So I think Socrates had the best idea about what Patriotism really is about. All that other stuff is simply mistaking one individual's version of Patriotism for another's. And in the USA, where the opinion of the individual is allowed free reign, there are going to be many versions of patriotism. But the key to remember is that your patriotism is not my patriotism in a free society.

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot.pitabred@dyndns@org> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:58PM (#26594703) Homepage
    Microsoft never advertised Aero, though. They advertised Windows Vista, and showed how pretty it looked. The vast majority of consumers barely know there are different versions of Vista, much less the differences between them, and if something has a sticker saying it'll run Vista, then it should be able to run what is advertised as Vista.

    Going with your example, Crysis will run as a full game with all the features on any system with at least the minimum specs. You get to play every level, every enemy, nothing is left out. That is not what happened with Vista... you can't run all of the Vista content with a "Vista Capable" PC, even slowed down. It's just impossible. And that's the issue.
  • by XcepticZP (1331217) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:06PM (#26594771)
    Firefox doesn't load nearly as fast as Internet Explorer. Not just on my PC, but on every PC I've tried this on. Granted, I haven't compared the speeds between IE and Firefox on an Amiga 500. But that's because you're such a seasoned veteran of the computing industry and knew better than to buy a low end laptop with the brand new OS that you should have read about while it was still in beta!

    As for your post, well. I find it pretty amusing actually. You write this long post, making us think that you know what you're talking about. Yet at the same time you fell for this Vista-capable business and now you're whining about it. It's just as much your fault for buying the low-end laptop without researching it first as it is Microsoft's for thinking people like you didn't exist.

    Heck, you could have been a real genius and tried that laptop at the shop! Assuming they had it on display, or you asked a sales assistant to get one for you to try! But wait, you're a seasoned veteran of the computer industry (because you had an Amiga 500), so you didn't bother with all that non-nerd-business of going to the computer store and talking to a sales assistant. No, you knew everything you had to know about Vista (not) and knew everything about computers (because you're a seasoned veteran of the computer industry) so you probably opted to instead just order her laptop online.

    You went the cheap route and now you're whining to us about it. Then you add iHate Microsoft to your post and expect everyone to give you brownie points!
  • anonymous coward (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:36PM (#26595267)

    I had a number of people bring me BRAND NEW laptops last summer which took 45 minutes to boot Windows Vista. They had the absolute minimum processor and memory to run this bloated OS and were completely unusable. They were slower than my PC from 2000 running XP. Far slower.

    I hope that these unfortunate customers who were tricked by promises and low prices get their money.

  • But the key to remember is that your patriotism is not my patriotism in a free society.

    Patriotism is Oxymoron in Globalized World

  • by khellendros1984 (792761) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:53AM (#26596419) Journal
    Nationalism is an oxymoron in a truly globalized world, but not patriotism.
  • by Cowmonaut (989226) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:51AM (#26597195)
    The problem here was that a LOT of the "Vista Capable" computers couldn't run *notepad* at a reasonable pace. 512MB is like trying to run XP on 128MB, but worse do to the extra video card requirements. If you had the hardware, Vista is pretty decent (now), but "Vista Capable" is a total marketing scam.
  • Re:Haha yeah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grolaw (670747) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:58AM (#26597449) Journal

    Microsoft supplied those standards.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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