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Vista Capable Lawsuit Loses Class-Action Status 172

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-means-what-exactly-now dept.
nandemoari writes "The long-running 'Vista Capable' lawsuit challenging Microsoft's marketing of PCs capable of running only the most basic version of the Windows Vista operating system has reportedly lost its class-action status. Federal judge Marsha Pechman decertified the class-action lawsuit, saying that plaintiffs had failed to show that consumers paid more for PCs with the 'Vista Capable' label than they would have otherwise."
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Vista Capable Lawsuit Loses Class-Action Status

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  • Out the window goes my brilliant rebate scheme for my Vista capable MacBook Pro.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      And how much bribes did Microsoft pay to get the suit dismissed?

      I think that's a valid question since it's a lot of money at stake for Microsoft and they have tipped the odds earlier in the OOXML circus.

    • by v1 (525388)

      I just mentioned that to our sales manager, that we should put Vista Capable stickers on all our macs on display. He likes the idea. heh...

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:31PM (#26958409)

    I'm confused by the judge's comment -- I thought the whole issue was *not* that users paid higher prices for "Vista Capable" machines, but rather that they bought such machines that were not actually capable of running Vista.

    What gives?

    • by andrewd18 (989408) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:35PM (#26958455)
      The fact that they had to pay more for a machine that was Vista capable, when the basic machines weren't Vista capable (yet labeled as such) is a big part of that argument.
      • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday February 23, 2009 @01:13PM (#26958929)

        The fact that they had to pay more for a machine that was Vista capable, when the basic machines weren't Vista capable (yet labeled as such) is a big part of that argument.

        A good idea, but I don't think that's the argument. Actually reading TFA (I know, I know), it sure sounds like the judge is saying that the prosecution is arguing that the low-end machines labeled as "Vista Capable" were somehow deliberately overpriced, thereby leading to 'unjust enrichment' for Microsoft. If so, this really seems like a royal screw-up for the prosecution, since it's your version of the argument that makes much more sense (at least to me, but IANAL).

        Cheers,

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Remember kids: It's OK to lie as long as you don't charge more for it.

          • That's not "certified public accountant" in the subject line, but rather "Consumer Protection Act".

            I questioned exactly the same line of reasoning in this post [slashdot.org], and fellow slashdotter and lawyer-in-training pdabbadabba was kind enough to explain what s|he had found in this follow-up [slashdot.org].

            The upshot of it all is that it apparently *is* legal to market deceptively, provided no one is injured (or, in more practical terms, no one *notices* they are injured).

            Ain't the law grand? :-/

            Cheers,

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Actually, the machines were demonstrably capable of running Vista.
      • ...for conveniently picked values of "capable of running Vista", of course.
    • by v1 (525388)

      A "vista capable" sticker on a pc is often a cheap way to con someone into upgrading to a machine that's not vista tolerable.

      You'll remember back to when 480mbps usb came out, all those PCs being sold with the slower (12mbps) usb couldn't GIVE those motherboards away, so they just bribed the specs committee to rename the standards so "USB 1.1" aka "USB full speed" vs "USB 2.0" aka "USB high speed" were "simplified" to "USB 2.0" and "USB 2.0 high speed", so that anyone shopping for USB 2.0 would probably be

    • by zotz (3951)

      Hear! Hear!

      This is the point I immediately thought to make too.

      The problem isn't that you paid too much for that machine, the problem is that you now had to turn around and buy another machine that actually was Vista Capable surely...

      all the best,

      drew

  • Slightly Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:33PM (#26958427) Homepage

    The summary (and, indeed, the article) is a little misleading. It is not that they didn't show that the plaintiffs didn't pay more (if the judge had found that, the case probably would have been dismissed). Rather, they lost their clase certification because they hadn't shown that all the plaintiffs in the class had uniformly overpaid.

    To form a class, the plaintiffs' situations situations have to be relevantly similar. Her ruling was just that, in essence, the cases hadn't been shown to be similar enough to be litigated as a class.

    Now the cases will proceed individually, with each plaintiff having to show individually that they overpaid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShieldW0lf (601553)
      The arguments are flawed. It doesn't matter if they paid more or not. The machines were advertised as being fit for a specific purpose, and they are not fit for that purpose. If I order a $200 car, and someone sends me a $200 bicycle, the fact that it was a fair price for a bicycle is rather irrelevant.

      This whole thing stinks of bought and paid for...
      • by dAzED1 (33635) <brianlamere@y a h o o . c om> on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:45PM (#26958569) Homepage Journal

        find a bicycle that is actually just the basic version of a car, then perhaps your argument might mean something. There is a version of Vista those machines would run with, and it is actually Vista...not DOS, not Win3.1, but Vista.

        • find a bicycle that is actually just the basic version of a car, then perhaps your argument might mean something. There is a version of Vista those machines would run with, and it is actually Vista...not DOS, not Win3.1, but Vista.

          Yeah, more bullshit and liars games... I can take a piece of dog shit, stick it in a box and put a Vista sticker on it. If I advertise that I'm selling Vista for $10 and send you this box, was I honest, or was I not?

          Similarly, Microsoft made a lot of grand claims about what
          • by dAzED1 (33635)

            you don't like reading, do you - just making up ridiculous counter-arguments.

            The way the case was presented, and the way fraud works anyway, the plaintiffs had to prove MS was unjustly enriched by the fraud, not just that the fraud occurred. That the machine is able to use Vista versus the alternative (XP) is an important, and meaningful, distinction. People wanting the world but wanting it for free is a sign of an upcoming revolution, not a sign of something we should pretend has any merit for an argumen

            • Personally, I feel the evidence indicates that the case was presented in this way because those presenting the case were bought off.

              You put forth that MS can advertise their product "Vista" as having specific features, then substitute some other software with the same "Vista" label on it and claim that they are equivalent because they are labeled the same.

              Then, they use this equivalence to substantiate a claim that hardware that doesn't support the features that "Vista" was advertised to possess is neverthe

              • by dAzED1 (33635)

                Personally, I feel the evidence indicates that the case was presented in this way because those presenting the case were bought off.

                Which would become a criminal concern, something this and many other actions Corporations have taken should have been treated as. This particular case, however, was a class-action civil suit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pdabbadabba (720526)

        Nope. It does matter whether they paid more. They are claiming unjust enrichment which requires that MS profit from the deceptive practices. This means that it has to be shown (now on a case by case basis) that the plaintiffs actually paid more than they otherwise would for the deceptively marketed computers.

        (IANAL, but I will be AL soon and I have a fair deal of experience with these sorts of consumer class actions. And this, of course, is not legal advice. Take my word for it: the federal court system is

        • When I first heard about the case, my assumption about the main thrust of the argument (since proven wrong) was that consumers were put through undue hassle and extra expense in having to replace the extrememly low-end and basically unusable "Vista Capable" machines. I always thought it was more of a classic "bait and switch", with the user being deliberately misled into buying something different from what was being described. Even if unjust enrichment were required for such a legal argument, it would th

          • OK. So I've read the order now and here's the story:

            Under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), one has to show not only that the practices at issue were deceptive, but that the deception injured the plaintiffs. Makes sense, I think.

            The injury that these plaintiffs are alleging is having overpaid for their computers. That is, their computers were priced higher than they would have been had they not been advertised as Vista-Capable.

            For class certification, of course, the plaintiffs have to show that this price

            • by idontgno (624372)

              of course, I can't see why you would deceptively label something without intending to injure customers somehow.

              Well, deceptively understating would be deceptive (like saying a computer is adequate for email and light web browsing and pricing accordingly, when in fact it's a kill-em-dead gaming rig) but unharmful, particularly if priced like a email-and-web box instead of the blazing speed monster it is. In this case, deceptively giving more value than the customer paid for. Not injurious, probably, but of

              • But, again, why would a company do this? And why would we want to stop them?

              • There's also the wrinkle that the customer has to notice that they've been harmed. Slashdotter v1 brought up this very salient point here [slashdot.org] with regard to deceptive USB marketing to shift low-end mobos obsoleted by the arrival of USB 2.0. I doubt most run-of-the-mill consumers would have understood the difference between "USB 2.0" (formerly "USB 1.1" and only 12mbps) and "USB 2.0 high speed" (formerly "USB 2.0" and 480mbps), and many probably would not have understood enough to realize they were being swind

            • "So, yes, the plaintiffs perhaps could have tried a different damage theory as you suggested (hassle of finding a replacement) but it looks like these didn't go that way."

              And I suspect for good reason. I doubt many people ran out and bought a more expensive computer just to have a better Vista experience.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          But they DID profit from the deceptive practices, it just wasn't in cash. As we know in products "buzz" is everything and by pushing out those machines as Vista when they weren't MSFT was able to hype Vista and say "See how many we have sold! It is very popular! You should buy it now!" just as they are doing right at this very moment with Vista Business which we all know is being bought by those wanting downgrades to XP, yet they are able to say "See how much more Vista is selling than XP at the same time?

          • by RingDev (879105)

            This is my 02c,YMMV

            It's 2c or $0.02, not 02c, and definitely not .02c.

            -Rick

      • Reading TFA, it sounds more and more like an egregious prosecutorial cock-up. As pdabbadabba notes below [slashdot.org], the knuckleheaded prosecution argument is apparently that the "Vista Capable" machines were deliberately overpriced. IANAL, but simply logically speaking, it would seem to make more sense to argue that the labeling program was misleading, requiring lots of hassle and possible extra expense for consumers to return and / or replace the low-end, barely-usable "Vista Capable" machines with something that

    • by RingDev (879105)

      It was my assumption that the suit was over low end machines being labeled and sold as Vista capable when they shouldn't have been. Which would likely mean that the majority of people effected actually underpaid for what they were told was a Vista capable machine.

      I was assuming that they would have to show that enough of the cases people purchased "Vista Capable" machines that were clearly not capable of running Vista in the marketed manner.

      If they were trying to sell it to the judge as a matter of overpayi

    • Now the cases will proceed individually, with each plaintiff having to show individually that they overpaid.

      "Hey, Vista has splashly effects"

      "Hey, buy this laptop, it'll run Vista"

      <hand over some money>

      "wtf, this is not beefy enough to run the splashy effects! I paid for something I didn't get."

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Now the cases will proceed individually, with each plaintiff having to show individually that they overpaid.

        "Hey, Vista has splashly effects"

        "Hey, buy this laptop, it'll run Vista"

        [hand over some money]

        "wtf, this is not beefy enough to run the splashy effects! I paid for something I didn't get."

        [Judge] Yeah, but I did suckers! Bwaahahaha!

        [Judge drives off in new Bentley to mansion in the Hamptons]

    • The people should have individually sued Microsoft. Class-Action suits do nothing. Hundreds of wins in lower courts does EVERYTHING including enriching those who were conned out of their money.

      It also gets rid of Microsoft's lawyer ability to some degree, since some of these cases will wind up in small claims, where Microsoft can't send lawyers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pdabbadabba (720526)

        Well, that's what they'll have to do now. The down side with this strategy is that:

        1. It will he harder for the plaintiffs to get good lawyers because there will be a lot less money involved. (The way it attracts top lawyers to take up the plaintiffs' cause - due to the large paydays - is one of the benefits of the class action system). Though, as you say, they may not need lawyers at all this way.
        2. Similarly, MS will almost certainly pay less in damages if the suits are individually litigated. Remember, M

  • I thought the point of the lawsuit was that people were fooled (allegedly!) into thinking that lesser-spec'd machines were capable of running many of Vista's better goodies, and not specifically that the machines they did buy were overpriced?

    Is this a cock-up of the presentation by the plaintiffs or their reps?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      The complaint in the court of public opinion is that when Vista is marketed they talk about all the great shit it does on the highest end hardware and make it seem like you get that stuff if you get Vista. Lots of machines were sold as "Vista Capable" that couldn't do a bunch of that shit and on which Vista ran like a squashed turd (arguably it ran like that on anything without a special disk AND a special USB stick AND at least 4GB of memory until SP1 and now it's only a round turd so it can at least roll,

      • Read the fucking specifications.

        Do you really think that Aunt Millie or Uncle Elmo has enough technical skill to read and understand the specifications? Do you even think that they're going to realize that they need to ask you to check out the computer they're looking at before they buy it? For that matter, do you want to go over the specs of every over-hyped, underpowered "Windows iCandy ready" computer your friends and family think they want to buy?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I was wondering how long it would take someone to bite. Here's the simple answer to your question: I am not a plumber, so if I want to know about the best way to pipe shit between points A and B, I don't ask myself, I ask a plumber. If Aunt Millie or Uncle Elmo doesn't know what the fuck they're doing, perhaps they should ask Cousin Ted to tell them what kind of computer they should buy. The vast majority of people don't know one fucking thing about cars, they know that they have certain fluids which must b

  • Darn, my mouse was not vista capable! I wasted $75 on this MightyMouse thinking its gonna run on my lovely Vista laptop. I'm filing a class-action suit for this, hopefully I should get my $$ back.
  • Whats the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by revisionz (82265)

    I was part of one of the previous class action suits. After years of waiting all I got was a coupon for a $15 discount on windows or office.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'm sure that lawsuit kept a number of lawyers, judges and other legal plankton fed for a while. Society thanks you for your contribution.
    • by oneiros27 (46144)

      You can get more by suing individually, but then you'd likely have to front the cost of a lawyer.

      So, although the potential return is less for you in a class action suit, the risk is lower too, as you have almost no cost in joining.

      (But it does annoy me when the result is a coupon whose face value is only useful if you actually wanted to buy a new product. The ones who probably win the most in these cases are the lawyers who take a percentage of the whole ... and I'm guessing they're not paid in coupons)

  • The plaintiffs can still proceed with their individual lawsuits against MS. Class action would have had much more dire consequences against MS and more bad publicity. Class action would have brought more willing lawyers as there would have been the chance of a large settlement. MS can settle with the individual plaintiffs and quietly make this thing go away.
  • by laing (303349) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:40PM (#26958507)
    The issue was about users getting a POS that wouldn't give them the minimum acceptable user experience. It has been proven that Microsoft lowered their standards after caving into hardware vendors who wanted to dump their inventory. This was deceptive to the consumers who had been informed of Microsoft's assurances about "Vista Ready" and as a result they spent their money on something that was less useful than they expected. An almost identical scenario occurred during the USB 1.0 to USB 2.0 transition. The USB consortium (HP, Compaq, Toshiba, etc.) decided to re-number the specs so USB 1.1 could be called USB 2.0 (full speed). USB 2.0 got renamed to "high speed". Everybody who was waiting to buy hardware that supported USB 2.0 ran out and bought it even though it still only ran at 11 megabits. This judge is either brain dead or corrupt.
    • Maybe that's the issue you had a problem with, but the judge can only really rule on the issue the plaintiffs brought up. Their case did not allege "users getting a POS that wouldn't give them the minimum acceptable user experience". Instead, the case alleged "unjust enrichment" on the part of Microsoft, which requires showing that Microsoft made more money via the allegedly misleading behavior than they would have otherwise.

      • by jank1887 (815982)
        right. if anyone made extra money, it was the manufacturers who were able to clear out their stock of PC's with substandard hardware. They'd have had to take a huge loss on a lot of that inventory if they couldn't have put Vista on it.
  • I think the problem is really that their lawsuit was not class-action capable...
  • by seroph (414622)

    The case was dismissed because the low end laptops were "Vista Capable" but there was also a "Premium Ready" sticker on other models. It was a case of read the fine print.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE51I4KF20090219 [reuters.com]

  • by houbou (1097327) on Monday February 23, 2009 @02:43PM (#26960057) Journal

    This lawsuit was a joke. For once I have to say I'm happy Microsoft won.

    Why?

    Simple.

    There is nothing wrong with advertising a PC as "Vista Capable".

    Even if it only runs Basic Home Edition of Vista, certainly it doesn't contradicted its ability as being "Vista Capable".

    Furthermore, retailers and manufacturers who have been pushing Vista with their products (PCs, laptops, notebooks, etc...) have usually also made sure that they recommended their products with words such as "runs best with (insert flavor of Vista)".

    This is one of those times where clearly, greed was the only reason for this lawsuit.

    On another note, the cost of a laptop being "Vista Capable" and how much they overpaid? Oye Vay! Are they retarded? Even I know there are no collation between a product being branded as "Vista Capable" and a higher cost of purchase. If anything, I recall laptops being sold for like 400$ with Vista Basic. Dirt Cheap.

    Now, let's not think I like Vista, heck no, in my honest opinion, it's a crappy product, but, this isn't about what I like, it's just about being fair.

    Again, this lawsuit and the people behind it are just trying to make a quick buck on Microsoft by conning the system.

    What a waste of time and resources...

    • Well sure, they get Vista - and I definitely agree in principle and think people should quit being lazy and do a little research, themselves, before paying good chunks of money for anything.

      I do think, however, that in most countries they might have gotten a slap on the wrist from whichever organization regulates -advertising- as their advertising was misleading.

      If you go around showing off things like Aero, Previous Versions, etc. label that as 'Vista' and people buy 'Vista' and find out that 'Vista' can't

    • Even if it only runs Basic Home Edition of Vista, certainly it doesn't contradicted its ability as being "Vista Capable".

      So should you need heart surgery and the doctor tells you he is "heart surgery capable" there is nothing wrong with leaving out the fact that he can only fix basic problems. Sure, he knows you think he meant ANY heart problem, but you are fine with him selling you the basic package?

  • "Federal judge Marsha Pechman decertified the class-action lawsuit, saying that plaintiffs had failed to show that consumers paid more for PCs with the 'Vista Capable' label than they would have otherwise"

    Now that is what I call missing the point entirely. Maybe the person was going to buy a different, cheaper PC, until they saw the Vista Capable Lie%^H^Hogo. Maybe I was willing to pay more for a PC that was truly Vista Capable, but I chose one that didn't suit my needs. Sure I paid less, but - and pay a

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