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Microsoft Sued Over Vista-To-XP Downgrade Fees 479

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-win-for-losing dept.
Krojack writes with this excerpt from Computerworld: "Los Angeles resident Emma Alvarado charged Microsoft with multiple violations of Washington state's unfair business practices and consumer protection laws over its policy of barring computer makers from continuing to offer XP on new PCs after Vista's early-2007 launch. Alvarado is seeking compensatory damages and wants the case declared a class-action suit. ... Irked at having to pay a fee for downgrading a new Lenovo notebook to XP, Alvarado said that Microsoft had used its position as the dominant operating system maker to 'require consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to "downgrade" to the Windows XP operating system.'"
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Microsoft Sued Over Vista-To-XP Downgrade Fees

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  • and call it even.

    • by hansraj (458504) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:26PM (#26851597)

      Actually, what you are suggesting is very odd!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      I don't know if it's a weird psychological experiment you're doing, but after reading your title "Just give her Windows 7", I read your post as "and call it eleven".

  • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:28PM (#26851623)
    She had paid the "Microsoft tax" already, on the purchase of the PC.

    Why should she have to pay another "Tax" to [downgrade to] something that works???

    A pox on Microsoft...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Most of her lawsuit if you RTFA is likely to get thrown out.

      "Microsoft did so in order to maintain, protect and extend its market power in operating systems software into the next generation of personal computing, to lessen competition, to promote Vista and to enhance its monopoly position"

      Um, the only thing that would have been different had she gotten XP was the not promoting Vista part.

      I'd say what it comes down to is once MS stopped supporting XP via release, they stopped discounting XP as well. Vista

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Artraze (600366)

      It may feel like a tax, but what you're paying for is a product. And, more importantly, a more desirable and a semi-custom (as Vista is the default) product. So it really only makes sense that the "downgrade" is more expensive, as that's just the way the market should fall.

      On top of that, XP is the previous generation and was released six years ago (IIRC). Plus, it'll be two generations old in a year or so when Win7 comes out. Why should MS continue to offer a product that was replaced more than a year

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671)
        No, it's a "tax" because it's nearly impossible to get a pre-built computer without Windows, which means that even if you don't want the product you have to pay for it. If you had the choice of getting an OS or not, or even a choice between OS's, then you would be right. But we're to the point where your selection of machines is SEVERELY limited if you don't want Windows.
  • Update (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Conrad (1461097) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:28PM (#26851625)
    The suit has been canceled after Emma Alvarado was abducted by a mysterious, well-organized, group of mosquitoes. When asked for a comment on the strange occurrence, Bill Gates is said to have laughed awkwardly while pressing his fingertips together. More on this as it develops.
  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:30PM (#26851653)

    I often hear people bitching about Microsoft's operating systems and the problems with doing business with Microsoft and its Partners. Why don't people just get a computer with a non-Microsoft operating system. Linux, Apple, Plan 9, BSD; there are plenty to choose from.

    • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:33PM (#26851679)
      You must be new around here!!

      Or, just a callow youth.
    • by Tom9729 (1134127) <(tom9729) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:35PM (#26851693) Homepage

      Because it's hard to find a computer that doesn't come with Windows at Walmart/BestBuy/etc.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:37PM (#26851725) Homepage

      The OS she wants is Windows XP. Why should she pay for two operating systems if she's only going to use one of them?

    • by db32 (862117) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:46PM (#26851801) Journal
      People keep trying to use...

      If (cake.have) then eat(cake);

      This of course fails because everyone knows...

      #define cake=LIE;

      Windows is just a pane...
    • I often hear people bitching about Microsoft's operating systems and the problems with doing business with Microsoft and its Partners. Why don't people just get a computer with a non-Microsoft operating system. Linux, Apple, Plan 9, BSD; there are plenty to choose from.

      People buy MS Windows, preinstalled, because that's all they know. Because most PC have Windows preinstalled they don't realize they have other choices.

      Falcon

  • just silly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nhstar (452291) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:32PM (#26851669)

    This would be like suing ford or gm for not continuing to keep last years engines for sale in new cars... this is just silly.

    • Re:just silly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:54PM (#26851867) Homepage

      If the engines were completely interchangeable, had zero manufacturing cost and this year's engine had worse mileage...

    • Re:just silly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DodgeRules (854165) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:57PM (#26851891)
      This is more like being charged a fee to buy last year's model car because you don't like this year's version. Not silly at all. Why should I pay a fee to get an older model that suits me just fine? Next thing you know Microsoft will drop support for XP and then charge them extra when they want to refresh their XP install. If you don't pay, we won't unlock XP and make it "legal". Note: Microsoft is not authorized to read this post or use my ideas without paying me $1,000,000 in cash.
      • That analogy falls flat because there are issues involved with supporting an older OS that don't exist so much with old cars. Older cars are not more likely to get broken into, whereas older versions of Windows are generally easier targets for malware writers. And it's not last year's version, it's more like the version from 8 years ago...
      • Why should I pay a fee to get an older model that suits me just fine?

        Because it's not manufactured anymore. A company that manufactures anything isn't responsible for maintaining it or offering it forever. If you want an antique, you pay antique prices.

        If Microsoft doesn't want to give you XP, you don't get XP from Microsoft. You get it somewhere else if you're so addicted to it. Somebody's basement CD collection, The Pirate Bay, China. I'll sell you a copy (minus the hologram) for $25.00. I'll eve

    • by Eil (82413)

      If you're going to resort to a car analogy, at least choose the one that applies.

      Almost every car you can buy comes with two to three engine options depending on how fast the car can go versus how fuel efficient it is.

      But almost every new PC comes with a single OS option: Vista. And it has only one speed.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:47PM (#26851809) Homepage

    And their history of anti-competitive behavior, I'm not sure this is the right case. Now if the case was making hardware makers decouple the hardware and software costs, that might be different. If MS could raise the price of XP in a competitive environment, even if they're competing against their own products, more power to them. The only element that's not right is the one that's been wrong for a long time. MS using it's monopoly position to run the OEM's and leverage their market position to freeze out competition. This case doesn't really get at that. Sounds more like someone whining they can't get XP.

    But today there are a lot of good operating system choices. MS isn't the only game in town...as far as you can get past the OEM issue...not even the best game in town. If you could buy a retail copy of Windows from someone like Dell, and that cost was essentially the same as the price quoted on a new PC or laptop, then the market can really decide what the best OS for the money really is. When you don't have a choice, you don't have a market.

  • Oh grow up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by indytx (825419)

    From the article: "They have been forced to pay substantially more to acquire the Windows XP operating system than they would have to pay in a competitive marketplace," the complaint read. A competitive marketplace? Seriously? This person could have purchased something else. She could have bought a computer with Linux. What did people expect? A "competitive marketplace for Windows XP?" Companies take products off the market or replace successful versions with newer, "better" versions. Microsoft wan

    • Paying $59.25 for windows XP would be no problem, if you could return Vista for a decent amount!

    • Re:Oh grow up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Falstius (963333) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:33PM (#26852159)

      I'm no Microsoft fan, but it sounds as if $59.25 to get a completely different commercial OS, XP, isn't an egregious fee when you purchased the crummy consumer version of the newer OS, Vista.

      In order to purchase the XP 'downgrade', you also had to purchase Vista Business. So the actual cost over Vista Home was closer to $150 dollars. Linux, or no OS, was probably not available as an option, arguably because of Microsoft's unfair business practices.

    • > Seriously? This person could have purchased something else. She could have bought a computer with Linux.

      It's very probable that this person wants to run Autocad, Photoshop, or some 3D games for her childs, etc, etc, etc...

    • by rts008 (812749) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:44PM (#26852249) Journal

      This makes about as much sense as someone buying a coach ticket on an airline complaining about not getting free drinks like First Class.

      No, it's not like that at all.

      Closer would be buying a First Class ticket, then being charged extra to move back into the almost empty coach section.

  • Make it stick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:59PM (#26851901)

    Microsoft deserves every last bit of it. make it stick, make it hurt.

    I'd like to see computers sold at a price and have the OS as an option. Car makers deal with optional engine types and other optional features. Why can't computer OEMs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dark42 (1085797)

      Car makers deal with optional engine types and other optional features. Why can't computer OEMs.

      Because of the support nightmare it would cause when Joe Sixpack discovers he can't run his $10 game from Walmart on his new Linux-preinstalled computer (and he chose Linux because he didn't know it wasn't Windows, and he was cheap).

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:25PM (#26852079)
    The issue is that in order to buy XP, people were forced to buy Vista as well. That practice is called Tied Selling and it is illegal in many states.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      I don't think anyone is actually required to buy XP and for most retail purposes, XP is simply unavailable.

      Try to buy the old version of just about anything else. Once the manufacturer drops it, it is gone. There is no more. Try to buy a computer to run OS/2 Warp. Just try. It is gone. The proper attitude is XP is just as gone as OS/2. For some reason, Microsoft got talked into making it partially available through certain OEM channels but not retail. I'd say it is a problem with Lenovo rather than

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        Ah, but here the manufacturer hasn't dropped it - you can buy it, because you cough up the cash after paying for Vista to get the copy of XP.

        Now, if you could keep the copy of Vista and sell it on, I'm sure there wouldn't be much of a problem, but as it is - if you want the officially supported and sold (by MS, Lenovo can only sell it because of MS's downgrade option) copy of XP, you have to buy Vista first.

        For OS/2 and others, there simply isn't the option at all to buy it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, the issue is Microsoft released a new OS and decided to stop selling their old one. They aren't required to keep selling stuff if they release new things just because people liked the older models. It might make good business sense, but that doesn't make it a legal requirement.

      The other issue is that she decided to buy a laptop from a company that doesn't provide OS-free products. That's not Microsoft's fault.

  • by adiposity (684943) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:29PM (#26852123)

    Currently, Lenovo charges the same price for Vista Business and Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro. I order this option all the time. They also offer the same price for Vista Ultimate vs. Vista Ultimate downgraded to XP Pro.

    While I'm not crazy about this setup, you must remember that you are effectively buying two license. At any time, you have the right to upgrade to Vista for free. Yes, you shouldn't have to buy the Vista license, but Lenovo at least is not charging business customers anything extra at the moment.

    -Dan

  • by ErkDemon (1202789) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:32PM (#26852151) Homepage
    Yep, MS could get into trouble for market abuse for their current inconsistencies over who is "allowed" XP and who isn't.

    If they'd simply pulled the plug on XP totally, and said, "that's it, we aren't going to sell XP any more, because it's old and we don't want to be lumbered with the after-sales support forever", then that might be a legitimate manufacturer's decision.

    But they didn't do that, because they didn't want to lose the netbook market. So they said that netbook manufacturers could continue to buy, install, and sell-on XP, but laptop manufacturers couldn't. When you say to a company, "We have a product, we're selling it to other people, but we refuse to sell it to you to work with your products, because we now want you to buy a different product from us", then that starts to get dodgy.

    It's a bit like if a car-seat manufacturer has two ranges of car seats, their older smaller range and their new wider deluxe range. They want manufacturers to build the wider seats into all new luxury cars that can take them, but if they discontinue the older range, they'll lose the section of the market that supplies cars where the newer seats don't physically fit. So they continue to sell both ranges, but tell manufacturers that they are "banned" from selling the older seats fitted to the larger cars, even if those same cars have been sold fitted with those same seats in the past. That level of interference is getting into "illegal restraint of trade" territory.

    The question is, how much control should a dominant component manufacturer have over how their products are used? Should they be allowed to micromanage what people do with their products with these sorts of restrictions and conditions? If a product has already been certified for XP, should they be allowed to then tell a manufacturer that they can still buy copies of XP, but they're are no longer allowed to preinstall them on those particular machines because new MS policy is that those particular customers should be buying something else? Even if this upsets both the suppliers and the customers?

    Now to me, it sounds like MS are probably legally in the wrong here (as they have been so many times before when it comes to OEM contracts). And they probably know that they're in the wrong, but figure that the stakes here are so high that they'd rather break the law and worry about the consequences later ... after all, none of their suppliers are going to want to sue them for fear of unofficial retaliation.

    So this customer has decided, look, this is complete s**t - I should be able to buy the current software that I want on the machine that I want, without my supplier saying that they aren't allowed to do that because of some arbitrary rule imposed illegally on them by MS. So she figures, (a) it's unlawful and unfair, (b) someone should do something about it, (c) the laptop manufacturers won't, (d) she has the receipts that prove that this illegal behaviour by MS has cost her money, and (e) if it's illegal, and she's provably been damaged by it, then she's in a position to take a stand and sue, and maybe have the court ruling force MS to stop breaking the law (as she sees it).

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      I don't know if OEMs cannot ship a laptop with XP or if no OEM wants to offer anything except a downgrade option. I suspect Microsoft has strongly encouraged (financially) that nobody sells computers with XP as the original, default operating system. They may be able to subdivide the classification of "computers" in such a way as to have OEM builders put XP on some machines of a particular class. Maybe. Or, the netbook OEMs are able to put XP on the machines because they are paying more for it - the sam

      • OEMs cannot sell any more XP licenses. That happened last year, around April, I think. The only way to get an XP license these days is to get a System Builder disc. The only way to get a preinstalled copy of XP is through a Vista downgrade license. OEMs have to buy licenses from Microsoft, Microsoft dictates the above terms. Your "strongly encouraged (financially)" is what's known as a contract.

        Netbooks are the exception to the above licensing terms.

        Are we clear on that now?

        There are several good analogies

    • by rtechie (244489) *

      The issue is complicated. Microsoft has every legal right to change their pricing structure whenever they want. What they did is stop selling the "site" discounted XP licenses to OEMs. Starting in 2007 that was passed to Vista. This means that in effect the OEMs with the big discount pay less for Vista than for XP. That's what these fees are about.

      As far as I'm aware, netbook makers pay the same price for XP i.e. they're paying more. Possibly more than they ever have.

      You might notice this has nothing to do

  • Hey, the mantra of the traditional conservative is state's rights. It certainly is of mine, and here, Washington, despite its more liberal bent, is perfectly entitled to be more liberal, than say, Texas. If you want to do business in that state, then, hey, you gotta play by their rules. The desire of the businessman for national consistency is not an excuse to trump the rights of the residents of the various sovereign states who are signatories to the treaty that is the Constitution.

  • Alvarado said that Microsoft had used its position as the dominant operating system maker to 'require consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to "downgrade" to the Windows XP operating system.

    Well, she wanted Windows but she got Windows.

  • My take on the situation is that this person is stupid. For one, there's nothing wrong with what's going on. There are plenty of analogies above that make similar points regarding car stereos and engines.

    If you don't like what is offered, then don't pay for it.

    Simple answer for Microsoft next time: Tell everyone "fuck you" and not offer the older at all with the exception of the volume market and business market. This is all some stupid, frivolous lawsuit like this is going to accomplish.
  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:40PM (#26852623) Homepage

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't these users *opt* to downgrade knowing there would be an additional charge?

    Not to mention that the charge is from Dell or HP or whatever OEM, and not Microsoft, but the customer opted for it.

    I'm sure there's a poor car analogy for this, but I don't even need one to point out how dumb this appears on the surface. Maybe there's just something I'm not seeing?

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