Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Windows Vista Class Action

Last week, a class action was filed against Microsoft for for deceptive practices in marketing Windows Vista. According to the complaint (which you can read here courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer), while Vista's release was being delayed, computers were sold with stickers identifying them as "Vista capable," even though the only version of Vista they can run is Vista Home Basic. That edition does not include the cool features that ostensibly make Vista different from its predecessors. The complaint quotes an unnamed reviewer for the proposition that Home Basic is "the most pointless edition of Windows that Microsoft has ever released." As someone who once purchased a computer that was Windows ME capable and then foolishly redeemed the coupon to "upgrade" from Windows 98 when ME became available, that strikes me as extremely damning.

The case was brought in federal court as a diversity action, which is permissible under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, since it alleges more than $5 million in damages and there is minimal diversity of citizenship. As to liability, it alleges unfair or deceptive practices under the consumer protection law of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The key to winning this case for the plaintiffs will be showing that Microsoft misled consumers into thinking that "Vista capable" meant capable of doing all the cool things that Vista has been advertised as able to do, rather than capable of running an OS called "Vista." I would imagine that Microsoft will resist class certification on the ground that how individual PC makers and retailers used the stickers varied enormously and that state law differs greatly from state to state, so that nationwide class treatment is inappropriate. On the merits, according to press accounts, Microsoft contends that it has been careful to distinguish between different versions of Vista.

I went to the Vista homepage and while it's true that you can find the appropriate distinctions, you're immediately drawn to look at the "aero" and other features that have featured in the advertising campaign but don't run on Vista Home Basic. So if the plaintiffs can get by class cert, I think they have a decent chance of prevailing. Of course, it seems highly unlikely that the case would go to trial rather than settle. The question would then be for what. I'm not a big fan of coupon settlements, and current law requires special approval for coupon settlements, but at least for people who bought machines that are in fact capable of running more advanced versions of Vista, a coupon for such a version at the price that Windows Home Basic was promised seems like a fair deal. The harder remedial question is what to do for the people who bought machines that lack the hardware to run one of the more sophisticated versions. Those people won't benefit from a coupon for Vista.


egarber said...

Throw in the fact that the full Vista is a gigantic memory hog. I've been told that you basically need 2G of RAM for the thing to work well.

Vanessa said...

My brother was one of such customers who bought a "Windows Vista Capable" PC but could only run the Home version. We've been following this case for awhile now. Kudos to that lady in Seattle for picking a fight with Microsoft.

here are a few articles that may be of interest:

Seattle Post Intelligencer article Microsoft sued over Windows Vista marketing

Info World’s story

Tripp said...

@Gb.... forget that. Even 4Gb on a Dell Latitude 830 is slower than molasses.

Clarke - Creator of Magnedibles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clarke Smith & Co. said...

I am a proficient user of PCs (since 1989) - I currently own an HP Pavillion DV 6000 I purchased on October 2006 - that was labeled as "Windows Vista Capable" -

It came installed with Windows XP Media Center Edition - I never tried "upgrading" to Vista - instead, I purchased another PC at the beginning of February 2008 - Another HP DV9700t that came with Windows Vista (HP no longer offers a choice of having XP installed) I took the "Windows Vista Ultimmate" - 64 bit version -

Let me tell you - Ultimate Crap is what it should have been specified -

I can't list all the issues I found with Vista during the week I (really) tried to make it work - but here is a major one:

1. I Could not transfer all of my files - I didn't have 3 months to wait around for that!

I have some 300 gigs of data on an external hard drive - it's an ACOM 320 Gig Hard drive running at 7200 rpm with a Firewire connection -

I tried migrating content slowly - that means installing one program, then migrating some files and seeing how everything behaves - I'm not new to Windows - I've been a user since Version 3.1 - or was it 3.0? Anyway, When I tried moving 20 gigs of files, my machine began to tell me that it would take 4 hours and change - then it upgraded the time to 8 hours 24 minutes - when I finally got someone from HP's tech support on the phone (of course I know it should only take about 20-30 minutes), the Windows status was informing me that my wait would be over 11 hours and 33 minutes - FOR **only** 20 gigs of data!!!

Specs on this brand new laptop running Vista are:

􀁺 Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)
􀁺 Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.20 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
􀁺 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
􀁺 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS
􀁺 Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth(TM)
􀁺 240GB 7200RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (120GB x 2)

Besides this MAJOR problem of Slow Data Trasfer Rates (I later read mentioned about on trustworthy websites like there are hosts of issues that I noticed with this Vista Operating System - too many to waste my time mentionning - Because:

1. It's not worth my time writing or your time reading.

2. Because you should NOT even think about buying ANYTHING that has Windows Vista installed on it - for MONTHS to come!

Microsoft SHOULD get sued for releasing such a FLAWED product and TYING the hands of companies like HP from being able to sell a system with an XP Operating System - I liked the HP machine (Great Specs!) - the Operating System is WORTHLESS!

I am switching to an Apple as soon as I get my FULL refund from HP (and I am familiar with the Mac OS - so I don't suggest you do it unless you are too - and I use the ENTIRE family of Adobe Products for design - so it makes sense for me)

If you are in the market for a PC, I suggest that you shop around and make sure that you get a PC with Windows XP (Factory Installed) until at least after Microsoft release the SECOND patch for their (currently) beyond flawed Windows Vista Operating System - for example still sells systems with XP (as of 3/3/2008) -

Bets of Luck - DON'T BUY Anything with VISTA on it until at least Spring or Summer 2009! No Kidding!


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