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The Courts Microsoft Upgrades Windows Technology

Microsoft Wins Windows XP Downgrade Lawsuit 203

Posted by timothy
from the that's-just-like-your-judgment-man dept.
CWmike writes "A federal judge has dismissed a year-old lawsuit against Microsoft over alleged antitrust violations for the 'downgrade' rules it set for Windows Vista and XP. The order put an end to the lawsuit filed by Emma Alvarado in February 2009. In her original complaint, she accused Microsoft of coercing computer makers into forcing consumers who wanted to run Windows XP to first buy Windows Vista, or later, Windows 7, before they were allowed to downgrade to XP. The judge rejected Alvarado's accusations, saying that the plaintiff had not proved Microsoft benefited from the downgrade practices that it created and that OEMs implemented."
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Microsoft Wins Windows XP Downgrade Lawsuit

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  • How? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by leetrout (855221) on Friday February 26, 2010 @11:18PM (#31294182) Journal
    I'm not a lawyer but how do you not prove that they benefited by having OEMs sell the newer version of their software before allowing a downgrade path?
    • The judge rejected Alvarado's accusations, saying that the plaintiff had not proved Microsoft benefited from the downgrade practices that it created and that OEMs implemented."

      Yeah really... Microsoft isn't doing this for the good of their customers at Microsoft's expense after all.

    • You fail to submit such proof to the judge, and even though that should be easy to prove, you lose. This sounds more like this was the point the plaintiff's side ran out of money to fund the case.
      • by Moryath (553296)

        It's easy.

        1 - Microsoft's lawyers wasted a small forest worth of paper filing frivolous motion after frivolous motion.

        2 - smaller plaintiff couldn't keep up.

        3 - money could probably have changed hands to the judge. Is that a new swimming pool with the Windows logo in his backyard?

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      How did they benefit? It's a lot easier to make the case that the end user benefits for actually recieving two (non-concurrent) licenses for the price of a single license, given that the old software has been discontinued. I don't think the OEM price for Vista or Win7 is any different from XP, and the new versions are the replacements for the old - frankly they weren't required to offer an XP option at all (except by the oft-derided free market pressure that was upon them, of course - nothing bad to say a

      • Re:How? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HermMunster (972336) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:03AM (#31294450)

        There are a lot of ways they benefit. One by having mechanisms built into Vista that patrol the user that weren't there in XP that were rejected by XP users when they released WGA. The next is that they actually denied consumers the choice even though consumers asked for it and in the end the only way to get it was to pay for the OS twice (once for Vista and once for XP). OEMs aren't just the big boys such as the royal OEMs.

        This person's failure was obviously her failure of knowing the law or getting adequate legal council. Or Microsoft has deep pockets that get judges all hot and wet.

        The OEMs were forced to sell Vista and were told not to allow XP. Microsoft's approach to forcing Vista was systematic. It isn't hard to see what they had done over the past two years. Those actions could only be taken by a monopoly in the manner they were, and then again only by a monopoly with something to gain. Microsoft had been directing Royal OEMs to remove support for XP in the BIOS tables and as well had been telling hardware vendors not to provide drivers for XP (sound, wireless, etc). They didn't direct this in this manner without some plan and thus benefit to themselves.

        Really, it isn't hard to understand that users wanted X product but were forced to buy V product and then buy X product afterwords. When resellers said they were not able to comply and that Microsoft had discontinued their right to purchase the X product and then systematically denied support, and then lied about the availability of product keys. That's coercion of all parties--to say the least. When you consider Microsoft came up with more product keys after the netbook craze began you can see they were manipulating and coercing OEMs and thus consumers.

        If I were this person I'd refile (as I'm sure the case didn't go to trial) and then subpoena all the OEMs and their communications in preparation of the Vista release. I'd be willing to bet there's some real telling details in those correspondences.

      • Re:How? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:26AM (#31294586) Journal

        I have a hard time wrapping idea around the concept of forcing someone to sell something they don't want to sell. The idea is absurd. It's very mafia-ish at the very least.

        A computer should be separate from the software; as such a customer should never be compelled to buy a computer conditional on also buying the software on the device. Of course this is already covered under US antitrust law as illegal tying even if it is rarely if ever enforced.

        • AAPL (Score:3, Funny)

          by Envy Life (993972)

          A computer should be separate from the software; as such a customer should never be compelled to buy a computer conditional on also buying the software on the device. Of course this is already covered under US antitrust law as illegal tying even if it is rarely if ever enforced.

          In other news, Apple Computer has hit an all time high in the stock market...

          • That's completely unrelated. Apple sells magic. You'd need to have an expert witness, a *wizard*, to make your case there.
        • by kramerd (1227006)

          You are allowed to bundle items for sale so long as they are also sold as individual items.

          Since you can buy a computer without the windows OS, you can also by one with windows. You can even offer a discount for buying both hardware and software.

          Its the exact same concept as fast food restaurants employ. You don't want the fries and the drink with your gyro? Then don't get the combo. You want chicken in your gyro? Yeah, we used to sell a chicken gyro, now you buy a gyro and add chicken for an extra fifty ce

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RobertM1968 (951074)

        How did they benefit? It's a lot easier to make the case that the end user benefits for actually recieving two (non-concurrent) licenses for the price of a single license, given that the old software has been discontinued. I don't think the OEM price for Vista or Win7 is any different from XP, and the new versions are the replacements for the old - frankly they weren't required to offer an XP option at all (except by the oft-derided free market pressure that was upon them, of course - nothing bad to say about free markets when they help you out eh?), or any form of downgrade. You don't see Apple offering a free downgrade option from Leopard to Tiger, do you? Of course not, ordinarily the idea is absurd. The only difference is that this upgrade was not well-received, and it was offer a downgrade or lose customers.

        Since they weren't even required to continue selling XP at all, how the hell can you argue that selling a license that includes a free license for XP is anything but a value-add for the customer?

        I have a hard time wrapping idea around the concept of forcing someone to sell something they don't want to sell. The idea is absurd. It's very mafia-ish at the very least.

        That's weird... I just realized something... and maybe this is the problem:

        "Back in the day" many OEMs were selling the XP Downgrade at an additional cost. Nowadays, it seems one can buy a machine with Vista/Win7 or XP (with a Vista or Win7 license included) at the same price.

        Perhaps that is the problem with this suit (or part of it) - nowadays there is no extra charge. When the lawsuit was initiated, virtually everyone (due to Microsoft per their claims) was charging an extra fee for the downgrade lice

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        Although the license fail to explicitly state it, it appears to be Apple's policy to allow downgrades. If you want to upgrade an old mac that will not run the newest OS, and contact Apple they are likely to have you buy the latest version, and then provide the older version. That is at least what I have seen happen in the past.

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          Although the license fail to explicitly state it, it appears to be Apple's policy to allow downgrades.

          Generally speaking, it is not possible to install a version of MacOS on a Mac older than the one it came with. Apple don't provide the necessary hardware drivers.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        Why does someone have to prove Microsoft benefited?

        Let's say hypothetically that I shoot my very rich uncle, get caught, and in the middle of the trial it turns out I'm not in his will after all. I couldn't argue that I didn't actually benefit so I should get off. No one is going to conclude that If I knew about the will, that proves I had no other reason to shoot dear old uncle Fred, or that if I didn't know, I definitely did it for the money. If the state proves I did it based on solid eye witnesses, ball

      • by mqduck (232646)

        frankly they weren't required to offer an XP option at all (except by the oft-derided free market pressure that was upon them, of course - nothing bad to say about free markets when they help you out eh?)

        Where are you getting this idea that Slashdotters hate the free market? You won't find more Ayn Rand freaks outside the Libertarian party than on this site.

    • by Telephone Sanitizer (989116) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:44AM (#31294668)

      how do you not prove that they benefited by having OEMs sell the newer version of their software before allowing a downgrade path?

      This is from the article:

      Computer makers, not Microsoft, charged users the additional fees for downgrading a new PC from Vista to XP at the factory. However, Alvarado did not name Lenovo Group Ltd. in her lawsuit.

      She sued MS for a practice of the OEM. Wrong defendant.

      It's possible that she could have shown vertical market manipulation, but that might not have been relevant. Such practices might give rise to a federal antitrust suit, but she brought a state unfair practices action.

      I'm no expert in the laws of Washington state, but from the article it appears that among other things she had to show that she did not receive value for her money and she failed to do so.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @11:23PM (#31294216)

    Microsoft is under no obligation to give you a license for Windows XP if it doesn't want to. They've removed it from the general marketplace, but have left even Windows 3.1 in the MSDN subscription packages, even if those are a high price to pay for an old operating system, it's still the going rate.

    What a waste of resources. This lawsuit had no hope, and the money spent would have been better off asking Congress to lower the copyright expiration standard for software.

    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday February 26, 2010 @11:32PM (#31294274) Journal

      Besides, this was already covered under anti-trust legislation as illegal tying [slashdot.org] as Vista was the unwanted product tethered to the purchase of most OEM computers. Unfortunately, the chances of this ever being enforced are slim in the United States.

    • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:34AM (#31294900)

      Most of the world's non-embedded computers run Windows. When a company reaches that level of influence, it ceases to be just another firm and instead becomes a part of our societal infrastructure. It's certainly reasonable to hold such organizations to a higher standard than we hold smaller organizations. The power company can't "do as they want" either.

      As long as Microsoft wants to enjoy the lucrative benefits of being a singular part of society's information infrastructure, society ought to have a say in how Microsoft is run.

      You might argue that imposing such restrictions is "punishing success". That's hardly true. The people responsible for Microsoft's growth have been rewarded many times over. If Microsoft finds regulations unbearable, it can split itself in two smaller companies, or shrink some other way. Then, it would no longer be subject to the same scrutiny.

      But as long as Microsoft

      • by westlake (615356)

        As long as Microsoft wants to enjoy the lucrative benefits of being a singular part of society's information infrastructure, society ought to have a say in how Microsoft is run.
        You might argue that imposing such restrictions is "punishing success"

        You could also argue that society's choices - it's collective decisions - made Microsoft and Windows what they are today.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        As long as Microsoft wants to enjoy the lucrative benefits of being a singular part of society's information infrastructure, society ought to have a say in how Microsoft is run.

        Society already has a say. They can stop buying Windows.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday February 26, 2010 @11:39PM (#31294328)
    Why can't the system have a panel of retired judges look at civil cases before a full trial to ensure it is warranted? If the plaintiff wants to move anyway when told there is not case, so be it. But the loser and the loser's lawyer should have to pay something to the winner. There has to be some meaningful consequence for the losers.
    • > There has to be some meaningful consequence for the losers.

      Almost nobody wants to go to court. (Attorneys sometimes do because it's fun to do advocacy before the court, but most of them are smart enough to put client interests first. Debt Collection agencies also want to because they're almost never opposed, because people don't have money to fight them, but they don't even really think of it as going to court.) Courts also have pre-trial systems in place to try to get the parties to agree to a sett

    • As far as I can tell, anyway, this didn't go to trial. Basically exactly what you wanted to happen, happened. Except instead of "a panel of retired judges," it was one non-retired judge who's actually paid to make these decisions.

      In terms of ending discovery or other interminable (and expensive) pre-trial research & investigation--if you could make a suggestion that would do that without granting a virtual 'shield law' to civil fraudsters who don't want to be forced to cough up evidence they've comm

    • by westlake (615356)
      If the plaintiff wants to move anyway when told there is not case, so be it.

      This is a lunatic waste of a court's time and resources.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Why can't the system have a panel of retired judges look at civil cases before a full trial to ensure it is warranted?

      That's exactly what your lawyer's job is. If he's lying to you, or horribly mistaken, you can sue him. That's why all the lawyers here on /. post lengthy disclaimers...

      And with your pre-trial trial, how does "discovery" work? Does it have the full force to subpoena documents, in which case it's trivial for anyone to do so without consequences... Or does it have no such power, in which ca

  • It is always refreshing to watch a master criminal at work. Microsoft, the company that has made billions by locking users with false promises on knowingly sold defective malware, stolen technology, selling crap EULAs to sell 2, 3, even 4 licenses just get a machine running and compatible, trampling implied warranty into the ground, evading antitrust prosecutions with perjured testimonies and harried, baited judges, and multiples more on jobbed stock.
  • 72.54% of Windows users continue to use XP, so it is abundantly clear that the the market prefers XP to 7/Vista. If Microsoft had any competitors they would be forced to continue selling XP in order to avoid losing market share, however their monopoly means they do not have to worry about this since there literally aren't any competitors*. They are therefore abusing their monopoly by forcing 7/Vista onto a market that does not want it. What the judge says is true and Microsoft really aren't benefiting fr

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CodeBuster (516420)

      Alternatives like Linux aren't quite ready for the mainstream desktop user yet.

      Yes, but 2010 will be the year of the Linux desktop; just you wait and see...

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      72.54% of Windows users continue to use XP, so it is abundantly clear that the the market prefers XP to 7/Vista.

      Wow, giant fallacy in your first sentence.

      If you said, 72.54% of *new computer purchases in 2010* have XP installed, then you'd have a point. You'd also have a point if the upgrade to Windows 7 was free and trivially-easy.

      As-is, though, you're just spouting nonsense. Do you think this site is full of jellybrains? Did you think we'd fall for that trick?

  • by Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @05:02AM (#31295618)
    Instead of counting as an XP sale. It is instead counted as a Vista sale, and the marketing clowns at Microsoft get to beat their chests about how well the uptake of Vista was going (in stark contrast to the bad trade press no less). Nothing builds momentum like manufactured momentum...

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