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Class-action Lawsuit Blasts Microsoft's Vista Capable Designation

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 28 comments

Redmond (WA) - A federal lawsuit has been filed against Microsoft, claiming it falsely advertised various computers by calling them "Vista Capable" when their system specs didn’t really meet the qualifications.

A judge announced over the weekend that it would accept the lawsuit. It attacks Microsoft for putting the "Vista Capable" certification on computers that could only run the most basic version of the operating system.

Thus, many PCs with the Vista emblem are in fact not able to run many of the Vista features that are advertised in step with the hardware. For example, the "Aero" interface, only available in the higher-end versions of Vista, is incompatible with some PCs marked as "Vista Capable".

US District Judge Marsha Pechman certified the lawsuit but said it could only look at the 2006 holiday season, when computers were branded with Vista certifications but the operating system had not yet launched. At issue is whether Microsoft created an artificial demand by tricking consumers.

Microsoft is reviewing the ruling, and does not comment on pending litigation.

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  • 0 Hide
    joex444 , February 25, 2008 5:57 PM
    Jesus christ that's dumb.

    There was a DIFFERENT sticker called "Vista Premium Ready." Guess what that means? It does the high end stuff.

    People are smart as ... rocks.
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    Anonymous , February 25, 2008 6:07 PM
    ca·pa·ble
    ?adjective
    1. having power and ability; efficient; competent: a capable instructor.

    This isn't false advertising. This is what todays world is about as far as marketing. Companies "Blacksmith" phrases and words to get us consumers to purchase the product. As long as the machine can run Vista Home Basic there not faseley advertising. Yes, its bad business to not specify what version of vista it can and can not run. Thats there decision though. It's up to the consumer to ask questions or research the product. Also I don't remember ever seeing a "Microsoft" branded computer. if HP released a notebook with 512mb of ram instead 1GB and put a Vista Capable sticker on the thing how is that Microsofts fault. There many ways to look at this law-suit and debate it. I honestly think the consumer is to blame. We all want something for nothing, but the truth still stands "You get what you PAY FOR!"

    Robbie
    Business Owner
    IT Professional
    MCSE certified.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 1:18 AM
    Robbie, as IT Professional and MCSE certified I would think that you would know that Microsoft is the one that set the standards for what a Vista Capable machine was. HP, Dell, etc just slapped the stickers on the machines that MS said qualified.
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    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 1:42 AM
    Regardless of who made the vista capable specs Robbie is still correct. Its up to the customer to inform themselves of what the advertising catch phrases actually means. You don't buy a Nissan Z expecting all the same features as the Infinity g35 just because their both built on the same platform by the same company (technically).
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    todd99jp , February 26, 2008 3:21 AM
    No, Robbie is not correct. Nissan doesn't give the SAME name to two different cars, or put stickers on them to lead consumers to think they are identical. In fact, Nissan doesn't even explain to consumers that the two cars are built on the 'same platform.' Nissan is very up-front about the differences between the two cars, and consumers can easily distinguish between them. Just because some consumers will be able to see through the advertising BS (and I agree with you that consumers should be encouraged to find out all they can) that doesn't let Microsoft off the hook if the advertising was basically false. If you accept Robbie's argument then you accept that advertisers should be able to claim anything, since there is surely some web-forum out there that will set people straight if they were only able to find it. Also I disagree with joex444. Experienced PC users (and those used to Microsoft deception) might easily realize there are different versions of Vista, and different levels of performance. But what about consumers who are buying a first PC? They've heard that 'Vista' is the newest OS, and this PC has a sticker which says 'Vista Capable,' so they buy it. Maybe they didn't see any other PC with a 'Vista Premium Capable' sticker on it; maybe the shop didn't have any. To them 'Vista Capable' means Vista (whatever version) can run on this machine, and that turned out to be false. Microsoft could easily have foreseen this problem and made 'Vista Home Basic Capable' stickers, but they didn't. Gee, I wonder why...
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    snajk , February 26, 2008 4:16 AM
    Well, Vista home basic is still Vista though, and a computer capable of running it is therefore Vista capable, right?
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , February 26, 2008 4:57 AM
    Another stupid lawsuit.

    Vista basic IS vista.....
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    randomizer , February 26, 2008 5:00 AM
    I think microsoft has the upper hand in this, look what it says on their site (I added some caps):

    "A new PC running Windows XP that carries the Windows Vista Capable PC logo can run Windows Vista. All editions of Windows Vista will deliver CORE experiences such as innovations in organizing and finding information, security, and reliability. All Windows Vista Capable PCs will run these CORE EXPERIENCES at a MINIMUM. Some features available in the premium editions of Windows Vista?like the new WINDOWS AERO user experience?MAY REQUIRE ADVANCED OR ADDITIONAL HARDWARE."

    Microsoft said that you may not be able to run Aero, so I don't think this has alot of ground to stand on. Of course the judge will probably side with the little guy anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    todd99jp , February 26, 2008 5:34 AM
    Quote:
    Well, Vista home basic is still Vista though, and a computer capable of running it is therefore Vista capable, right?
    Yes, but Vista Premium is ALSO Vista, and many so-called 'Vista Capable' computers cannot run that. So on the face of it it's false advertising. The little Microsoft sticker (the one that specifically says 'Vista Capable') does not explain this distinction, and therefore falsely implies that the PC in question will run ANY version of Vista. If that's not the case (and it's not) then Microsoft must clarify the situation. Why is it incumbent on the consumer to find out every possible caveat? The sticker said 'Vista Capable,' the consumer bought it and a version of Vista, and the computer couldn't run it. False advertising, plain and simple.
  • 0 Hide
    todd99jp , February 26, 2008 5:47 AM
    Quote:
    I think microsoft has the upper hand in this, look what it says on their site
    The question at hand isn't what it says on their website, but what it says on the sticker. If a company makes two TV ads, one which tells the truth and one which tells a lie, would it be a valid defense to simply say, 'hey, they told the truth in the OTHER ad, so it's ok'? Think about consumers who are not so PC savvy, and who might be buying a first PC. They go to the shop and buy a PC based largely on the advertising they are exposed to at the shop. If that advertising is false or misleading, it's no excuse to say that Microsoft was honest and upfront in some other media venue. Yes, PC savvy people understood right away that there were these distinctions. But Microsoft still falsely represented it's product (or certified PC makers to falsely represent products), and that is illegal. Imagine you were buying something besides a PC, say an expensive microwave oven. You get it home and discover that it doesn't have functions you were lead to believe it had at the shop. You'd be pissed, too.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , February 26, 2008 6:50 AM
    But it does run (thank you to whoever added text formatting today). The sticker says it's is capable of running windows vista, and it is, it just isn't capable of running it butter smooth. There is no false advertising here, but there is misleading advertising because the desciption is extremely vague.
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    apache_lives , February 26, 2008 7:23 AM
    pfffttt, a p3 can run vista, does it deserve "vista capable"?
    systems come with "designed for xp" etc - are any of us game to run xp with the minimum 64mb of ram? or even 256mb for that matter?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 9:05 AM
    Obviously most of you aren't lawyers. Yes people are idiots and sue for anything. Still, every ad that I ever saw for Vista was touting the aero interface, how on earth is a computer novice going to know the difference? They couldn't get on the net to find out, s/he probably didn't have a computer for God's sake. Some of these people probably know as much about computers as you know about nuclear physics (ie. nothing). Think grandparents.
  • 0 Hide
    Flakes , February 26, 2008 10:10 AM
    i would like to see a lawsuit against "HD Ready" marked Tvs aswell...

    i think they deserved this, the normal consumer would not think that "Vista Ready" means that they can only use the basic Vista, remember we are not talking about the minority that use this site but the average Joe.... I very strongly believe the same action should also be took against "HD ready" TVs because they are not HD.
  • 0 Hide
    dav_man , February 26, 2008 1:10 PM
    And we could also go against the game-ready xbox's because they do not run wii games or something. Microsoft does not LEGALLY have to distinguish between the types of vistas these box PCs can run.
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    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 1:26 PM
    It's a freaking catch phrase, like 'intel inside'. If people take it as a detailed outline of what the system can do it's their fault, just like the 'intel inside' buyers who get a cheap celeron. What would you prefer, a two paragraph sticker?
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    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 1:33 PM
    "I very strongly believe the same action should also be took against "HD ready" TVs because they are not HD."

    Sure they are, HD-ready just meant that they didn't have a built in HD tuner to receive OTA broadcasts, but they still had the resolution.

    The issue here is that a 'Vista capable' sticker makes no distinction of the system's performance, which is really the sticking point on what can run on it. If the user did no research 'i.e. does it have a graphics card for good 3D support?' on the actual system performance, and instead used the 'vista capable' sticker as a performance benchmark then they're at fault.

    "Some of these people probably know as much about computers as you know about nuclear physics (ie. nothing). Think grandparents."

    If I were shopping for plutonium and got the wrong thing I also wouldn't blame the vendor, I'd think "oh shit, I know nothing about nuclear physics, what was I thinking when I decided to go buy this?".
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 1:38 PM
    "think they deserved this, the normal consumer would not think that "Vista Ready" means that they can only use the basic Vista, remember we are not talking about the minority that use this site but the average Joe.... I very strongly believe the same action should also be took against "HD ready" TVs because they are not HD."

    HD-ready is in fact HD. It simply means that it doesn't include a tuner for over the air HD broadcast, but it's still got the resolution.

    The issue here is that the sticker 'vista capable' doesn't discern the system performance, but people are using it as a performance benchmark. Under this lawsuit, an 'ATI' or 'Nvidia' sticker on a computer could be false advertising to someone expecting it to automatically run the latest games. If the users still don't take initiative to understand the system's performance then it's their problem.

    "Some of these people probably know as much about computers as you know about nuclear physics (ie. nothing). Think grandparents."

    Yet if I went out shopping for plutonium and got the wrong type I wouldn't blame the vendor, I'd blame myself for not doing my homework. People rely too much on the legal system for bailing them out on their poor decisions.
  • 0 Hide
    todd99jp , February 26, 2008 3:37 PM
    Quote:
    Microsoft does not LEGALLY have to distinguish between the types of vistas these box PCs can run.
    Thank you for your obviously expert legal opinion. I'm sure your opinion is based on heaps of precedent case study...

    As someone who maybe knows the law a little better, I'd say that Microsoft IS legally obligated to fairly and accurately represent their products in advertising. Failure to fully disclose relevant information in an advertising claim (e.g. 'this PC is capable of running Windows Vista' without specifying that it can't run certain versions of Vista) has been ruled illegal countless times in US courts. Microsoft made a blanket claim in their 'Vista Capable' sticker, a claim which is not true in all cases, and they gave no notice in the ad about exceptions or limitations. Furthermore, that little sticker was touted by Microsoft as virtually 'the guarantee' that a specific PC could run 'Windows Vista.' If you wanted to use 'Windows Vista' you had to make sure the PC had that 'Vista Capable' sticker. Then you get home and find out it DOESN'T run a particular version of Vista. That's deceptive advertising. Ask anyone who actually has studied law and they will tell you there is a valid case against Microsoft here.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2008 3:42 PM
    Any computer labeled "Vista Capable" can run any version of Vista... period. That includes Business and Premium and what have you. Microsoft states that even "capable" machines may not be able to run all functions of Vista. This is a well-known practice in the computer and electronics industry and is not in violation of any regulations. This lawsuit has no ground and will only reflect poorly on the US court system yet again if it actually makes it through.
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