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Microsoft Government The Courts News

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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  • Re:Monitors (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:27AM (#26958339)

    What about Vista-capable monitors? Never understood the point of that sticker on the base of my 22" LCD monitor.

    Usually that means it has HDCP or the drivers were bundled in.

  • Slightly Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:33AM (#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.

  • by laing (303349) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:40AM (#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.
  • Re:Monitors (Score:4, Informative)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:42AM (#26958535)

    Could have been a DRM thing. I'm too tired to look up the exact acronym (though HDCP is sounding familiar), but Vista implemented new support for certain monitors having end to end encryption between the video card and the display, so that it wasn't possible to directly capture the video from the video cable. There was originally plans (that I'm not sure if they ever came to fruition) to downgrade HD video on monitors that didn't conform to this standard (or were connected using standard DSUB cables instead of HDMI or DVI).

  • Re:Monitors (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:45AM (#26958573)

    http://www.ubuntu.com/partners/hardwareprogramme

  • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:50AM (#26958637) Homepage

    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 far less corrupt than you think it is [though YMMV with state and local courts].)

  • by seroph (414622) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:50AM (#26958643) Homepage

    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]

  • Not a Surprise (Score:1, Informative)

    by default luser (529332) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:03PM (#26958783) Journal

    These were bottom-rung machines bought by people who didn't give a shit. All they wanted was a computar thingy to access thar intarwebs.

    When people like this walk into these stores to buy the cheapest computer they can, nothing can move that mountain. You can tell them time and time again that the performance will suck, that it won't work with newer operating systems, and they still won't pony up another dollar.

    Face it, Vista got a bad name for three reasons:

    1. The lowest-end computers certified to run it were not really capable (since fixed).

    2. Nvidia's drivers sucked for the first 6 months.

    3. The I/O subsystem was poorly designed (fixed in SP1), and the virtualization of video memory was a poor idea for Vista-32 [anandtech.com] that makes game memory usage balloon (hence the higher memory requirements for games under Vista, and problems running out of memory that players don't see on XP). REALITY: Vista should have pushed 64-bit as the primary OS.

    Only one of the above was really under Microsoft's control.

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:13PM (#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 zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:18PM (#26959005)

    Here you go. [nwsource.com] The PDF linked in the article shows the actual email thread, including the "I now have a $2100 email machine" money quote by MS executive Mike Nash.

    Cheers,

  • Re:Linus is gay (Score:2, Informative)

    by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:24PM (#26959077)
    Cigarettes use computers! Who knew?
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:24PM (#26959081)

    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 pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @02:01PM (#26960295) Homepage

    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 inflation was uniform for all members of the class (in a nationwide class action lawsuit, this means they have to show that the prices were inflated throughout the US). And this is where they run into trouble, because MS has pointed out, and the judge has agreed, that the plaintiffs have not introduced any specific evidence that would indicate that this is the case (for example, they could have provided an economic study of the effect that a Vista-Capable certification has on the price of a PC, by way of supply and demand)

    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, yes, under the CPA at least, deceptive marketing in and of itself is OK, so long as it does not injure anyone. ...of course, I can't see why you would deceptively label something without intending to injure customers somehow.

    (again, not legal advice and IANAL yet)

  • Re:Monitors (Score:4, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @02:39PM (#26960797) Homepage Journal

    Then explain to me why it's on my ANALOG 22" LCD as well, then. There is no HDMI or DVI connection, so just how is HDCP implemented?

    The Vista Capable is just a marketing scheme.

  • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @03:05PM (#26961105) Homepage

    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, MS wants the cases to be litigated individually.

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