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Microsoft Dodges Class Action In WGA Lawsuit 256

An anonymous reader writes "A lawsuit that accused Microsoft of misleading consumers to download and install an update for Windows Genuine Advantage under the guise that it was critical security update will go forward, but not as a class action. A federal judge has refused to certify the lawsuit as a class action, which would have meant that anyone who owned a Windows XP PC in mid-2006 could join the case without having to hire an attorney. As Windows XP was easily the most popular operating system at the time, the ruling means Redmond has managed to avoid hundreds of millions in potential damages."
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Microsoft Dodges Class Action In WGA Lawsuit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:47AM (#30859300)

    I never planned on using the corporate justice system anyway.

    I used the consumer justice system... I pirated some of their software and then switched to Linux.

  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:52AM (#30859344) Homepage

    ...the ruling means Redmond has managed to avoid hundreds of millions in potential damages

    All of which would have gone to the lawyers.

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:57AM (#30859396)
    By the time the settlement or judgment is made -- assuming Microsoft doesn't go to trial and win -- the damages would probably amount to a few bucks per end-user anyway. It's the injunctive relief that matters IMHO. Microsoft should be forced to comply with anti-spyware laws. That can potentially happen whether the suit is class action or not.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:59AM (#30859414) Journal

    Seriously - we all know this. Every class-action against a tech company usually results in (at absolute best) a hundred bucks or so to each class-action participant, while the lawyer(s) leading the charge get to go buy a new yacht/house/jaguar/whatever with their take.

  • Re:good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:59AM (#30859432) Journal

    WGA enables other updates to be installed, it pretty much is a security update.

    Yeah, sure. It "enables" other updates to be installed, just like DRM protection "enables" movies to be watched.

    The converse, however, seems far more true: WGA restricts other updates from being installed, just like DRM restricts movies from being watched.

    There is no technical or security reason for WGA's existence. The "other updates" that it "enables" would work just fine without it, were they not arbitrarily designed to require WGA.

  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:00AM (#30859440) Homepage Journal

    As in the patent infringement case - even "several hundred million" is only a couple of days' revenue, assuming the crooked bastards lost.

    Penalties against Microsoft do not change their behaviour.

  • by the roAm ( 827323 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:02AM (#30859460)

    "This was indeed a critical security update. An update to secure the legitimacy of the software which we support."

    Then the judge rules in favor of Microsoft.
    The end.

  • What's the issue? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:04AM (#30859488)

    How many of the people that were to join the class action suit would have had legitimate copies of XP flagged as illegitimate? I know very few people that had this happen. A few corporations had their volume keys flagged as such, but if the admin was doing things properly, they would have denied the update through group policy (or some other patch management).

    For all the individual users - I remember coming across a few who decided to let their beliefs be known at a few functions I attended. They were up in arms over this, how it removed their background, and had a nuisance box pop up on the system tray. I asked if they bought the copy - they said no. So, WTF is the problem? You steal something, then get upset, when you get caught? Be happy, nothing really happens when you get caught. MS is basically saying "we know you pirated this, but no worries, just buy a copy now, we won't tell, we won't take you to court, we won't send Jimmy to break your legs."

    Now, we can all be pro-linux, pro-mac, pro-whatever, but the bottom line is, Windows costs money, and like any other company, MS has to make money to continue making Windows, etc. Now, they may be charging TOO MUCH, but this is a case for a monopoly. Just because all the oil makers are in cahoots, doesn't mean we can steal gas because we feel because it is a monopoly their prices are too high. And to jab the Apply fanboys - Apple releases OS updates YEARLY for $130. MS fanboys have had the pleasure of paying $200 retail (or $140 OEM w/ a mouse or stick of ram, or anything else cheap), for 5 years. I bet if MS released OS updates every year for $130, everyone would be up in arms, but when Apple adds a program like Notepad to it's OS, they repackage it, and call it something cute. I'm waiting for Apple Liger (it comes with a new theme!!!!!!!!!).

    So, back to reality, if you stole Windows, expect the genuine advantage to show up. And I love it, you know why? Because I'm a legitimate sysadmin, and when I load on Windows XP, Server, or even Linux (Redhat, or another one with support) I purchase the program, and make sure my clients are fully licenced. I have to compete with people who steal software and sell computers with pirated versions. The client usually does not know the difference, until the genuine advantage shows up - and I love this, because it weeds out the PC makers that are cutting corners and pocketing the extra money. The client gets pissed, then the PC maker ends up getting in trouble.

  • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:18AM (#30859670)

    While switching to Linux is a punishment for MS - pirating their software is not - it merely entrenches their position.

  • by Asphalt ( 529464 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:24AM (#30859742)
    By the time the settlement or judgment is made -- assuming Microsoft doesn't go to trial and win -- the damages would probably amount to a few bucks per end-user anyway.

    This is why large companies often preferclass action suits over individual suits.

    Class action suits mean that, if the company loses, they never have to litigate over the matter again.

    If they lose an individual suit, every consumer on the planet is free to chase the same reward the original litigant won, and they are not bound by any $5 off coupon settlements.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:30AM (#30859808) Journal

    While switching to Linux is a punishment for MS - pirating their software is not

    Of course it is.

  • Re:good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by giminy ( 94188 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:38AM (#30859918) Homepage Journal

    What upsets me the most is that if I legally purchase windows for my computer I am limited on how much I can upgrade

    Sadly you didn't purchase windows, you licensed it. Welcome to the world: intellectual property gets all the protection that physical property gets, with none of the 'disadvantages' (ability to loan, etc).

  • by infinitelink ( 963279 ) * on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:47AM (#30860014) Homepage Journal
    Your comment is a perfect example of being off-topic; as such, it functions as a diversion from the real matter at hand--the illegal installation of malware onto many computers, breaching privacy laws, and worse, under guise as an update, rather than something new altogether; this ain't no Mac vs. Lin vs. Win issue, and your mind's immediate jump to such things as those, and "piracy", is a perfect example of how unfortunately stupid people are these days--too quick to speak; I want to be fair, however, I'm an idiot too: I do it too much too, but I'm trying not to; I say this in friendly encouragement--shut-up more often. Speaking of speaking out of ignorance: WGA installs on all computers running Windows, "pirated" (ahem, stolen, not pirated--there is a legal difference) or legit, and it does indeed flag legit installs, even proper installs, for whatever reasons unknown: too often; I've heard reports that it sometimes flags machines even after having "validating" them already once before. The thing is, Microsoft has no legal rights to validate any computer, period: even if someone has breached copyright by installing an illegit duplicate: there are no legal means for them to create effective enforcement mechanisms outside of going through court: seriously. SERIOUSLY. Just because software is dynamic instead of static, does not mean those who make it may begin to become their own legal enforcers, judges, etc.. This is a serious trespass on authority, just as are so many other things (use licenses overriding secured rights, etc.) these days: so much arrogance--even more when the Microsofty types decide they'll pay what it takes to have laws written for them, pragmatic rather than concerned with just government. I can't say it's just Microsoft, though. It's like the lawyers pissed about the "residual overhang of physicality", who want laws to ensure they and clients can continue extracting protection money for "IP" without continuing to make real product: those laws are set-up to be just, not subjugate justice to profit; it's like the lower courts' and patent offices ignoring the Supreme Court's caution that the case reviewed regarding a patent which included a piece of software in a physical transformation does not mean software is patentable: all this patent litigation over software is illegitimate, unauthorized, i.e. illegal, but the unauthorized "authorities" have been using power they are not given for enforcement nonetheless; it's like the congress, president, executive staff, political parties (both major ones), etc., making laws federally they are not authorized even to debate in session--which some of the more open scumbags (who were actually open about being scumbags) have dared repeatedly say in session in congress, and to the public: and here we get to the point where a bunch of jerk offs who want this or that with society, this way vs. their way vs. his way, cry "but but but" without any real deference or regard for "rule of law", which has been of late bandied about too often by those who so often trample it. Sheesh. e whole case is rather about
  • Re:good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:49AM (#30860040) Homepage
    No... he purchased a copy of Windows, with a license to use it. That's where the sticking point is - just like when you purchase a book, the physical copy is your own, but that doesn't mean you have the right to read it out on the radio or adapt it as a screenplay.
  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:01PM (#30860198)
    "Your comment is a perfect example of being off-topic;"

    And your comment is a perfect example of being too exhausting to read. I'm sure you had a good point, but I saw that huge block of unbroken text and thought, "no thanks".

    Yes, I'm being pedantic, but the "enter" key can be a trusted ally and an aid to communication. Use it wisely.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:02PM (#30860214) Homepage Journal

    Rape isn't murder, it's rape. Copyright infringement is not stealing; it's copyright infringement.

    If you download a copy of XP, that infringes Microsoft's copyright. Microsoft has not been deprived of property any more than the rape victim has been deprived of life.

    If you walk out of Best Buy with a copy of XP without paying, you have indeed stolen it, and Best Buy is out the cost of the software they bought from Microsoft.

    Come on, guys, this is a technical forum. Lets be a little more precice, can we?

  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:03PM (#30860228) Journal

    I don't think so. MS allowed rampant piracy for years. It wasn't until long after they were the king of the desktop that they suddenly became concerned with piracy. Allowing people to pirate their software, coupled with generous give-aways to developers via MSDN, is what gave them their control over more then 90% of user's computers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:16PM (#30860376)

    While switching to Linux is a punishment for MS - pirating their software is not - it merely entrenches their position.

    Yes, but switching to Linux is also a punishment for me.

    This is not intended to be flamebait. I prefer Linux on my servers, but I prefer Windows on my desktop. I know that around here that makes me deficient in some way, but it's true.

  • Re:good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orasio ( 188021 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:22PM (#30860460) Homepage

    What upsets me the most is that if I legally purchase windows for my computer I am limited on how much I can upgrade

    Sadly you didn't purchase windows, you licensed it. Welcome to the world: intellectual property gets all the protection that physical property gets, with none of the 'disadvantages' (ability to loan, etc).

    Well, I don't know whether you are trying to make a point, or you actually believe what you are saying, but "intellectual property" is not something that can be compared to actual property. The concept of property has its origins on scarcity. Intellectual works are not scarce, so the concept of property has no meaning regarding them. "Intellectual property" is about monopoly rights over immaterial works, in this case, copyright. The only thing copyright and property have in common is that confusing term. There is no analogy to be made between property and copyrights, and doing so brings confusion like the GP, who thought he bought something, when he only paid for the right to run certain software under certain conditions. Much more like game tickets, only you have to play yourself in addition to paying.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:31PM (#30860582) Journal
  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:41PM (#30860696) Homepage

    So naturally if my computer does something wrong it's Microsoft's fault and I should sue them...

    If Microsoft's own software identifies what you are running on your computer as an illegal copy even if it was legitimately bought and paid for, then yes it is Microsoft's fault.

    Come on. We're talking about software here. Not everything requires petty political bullshit. Save it for HuffPost or Drudge Report; don't bring that malarky in here.

  • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @01:34PM (#30861358) Journal

    No, the coupon is what happened when micrsoft lost a court case that proved people were actually HARMED and incurred financial losses. What COST did WGA bring to you? (and system crashes don't count, those are already excluded from warranty in the EULA).

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @02:32PM (#30861882) Homepage Journal

    In other words, the plaintiffs get the 'opportunity' to provide more profits to the defendant and get more of exactly the thing they sued because of in the first place.

    That's like suing someone for causing your broken leg and they offer to break your other leg for 10% off of their regular price. Somehow it doesn't look like much of a win.

  • by Undead Waffle ( 1447615 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @03:01PM (#30862198)
    Or they can settle on this small case and make the problem go away without setting a precedent.
  • by Douglas Goodall ( 992917 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @05:22AM (#30868136) Homepage
    I remember clearly that Microsoft was the company that broke ranks first and destroyed the feeling of partnership that developers felt towards the previous system vendors. Before Microsoft, developers enjoyed the cooperation of vendors that knew that applications sold systems, whether their interest was hardware of software. The idea of paying to be in the developer program, the idea that Microsoft had as many SKUs for development products as user products changed the whole nature of the development game.

    I remember clearly that semiconductor vendors as an example, were happy to provide technical information that helped designers understand the benefits of their products. Piles of handbooks were freely available from a variety of sources, often the sales reps directly, or the vendors support divisions.

    Going back as far as CP/M-80, the operating system shipped with developer tools and programming documentation. Until Chuck Peddle stopped shipping the language tools and started charging separately for them. Vendors would put on free seminars to convince developers to support their platforms, and provide free technical support to serious developers needing help to complete products that would enhance the overall market impact of a vendors products.

    I remember being shocked and disappointed when Microsoft started charging serious money to be in their developer program. They also priced the development tools rather high, and began an onslaught of versions that never ended, I remember at least half a dozen so called 6-month learning curves alleged to provide developers with the understandings they would need to succeed with their applications. With one hand they charged a lot for assembly and C support, while they talked out of the other side of their mouths about how Visual Basic was all anyone really needed to write applications for Windows. They said you didn't even need to know how to program :-)

    Then Novell followed suit and priced up their developer program. Suddenly you had to be a member of several developer organizations at once to get critical mass on information required to create a non-trivial application, and it would not be competitive if you didn't use undocumented APIs like Microsoft did.

    Because of Microsoft's marketing style, the other development software vendors fell by the wayside one by one. Microsoft licensed their headers and framework to other compiler vendors, but never the latest version. Eventually the only viable compilers came directly from Microsoft at any cost. And you couldn't write software just with the information contained in the massive pile of refuse called the MSDN Library. It was full of deprecated (or should I say defecated toolkits that were so downlevel that the sample code rarely compiled without massive changes. You also had to buy piles of books, many of which costs more than $70 each. That wasn't even enough, if you were serious, you probably had to attend specific training from Microsoft or approved trainers.

    Because of the proliferation of operating system versions, API version, and general DLL Hell, it was rarely possible for small developers to test their products economically on all variations of the target platforms and versions. And Microsoft kept the target moving at all times, complete with misdirections and promises of features and future support that vanished quietly from time to time.

    We waited years for a certain version of Visual Studio to come out of Beta, and instead of actually releasing a stable product, they issued what I called the "forgiveness license" that said it was OK after all to ship products using what were previously beta components. The windows of opportunity shrunk to nothing and began overlapping in such a way that linear development was no longer sufficient and cascaded teams were necessary to stay viable in the face of streams of conflicting information and toolkits from Microsoft.

    Also if you could not afford the $25,000 support contract, they would just laugh in your face if you asked them a technical question only they could answer in order to complete a product that only operated under their operating system.

User hostile.