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By | Kelly Fiveash 25th February 2008 11:04

Judge greenlights lawsuit against Microsoft

Sticky issue of deceptive 'Vista Capable' labels

A US judge has given the go-ahead for consumers to file a class action lawsuit against Microsoft for providing misleading information about Windows XP computers being able to run Vista.

Redmond’s “Windows Vista Capable” labels first appeared on computers in April 2006, even though the firm’s latest operating system didn’t get a general release until January last year.

According to Associated Press the class action lawsuit, which was certified by US district judge Marsha Pechman last Friday, will specifically look at whether Microsoft’s labels generated artificial demand for computers in the 2006 run-up to Christmas.

It will also examine if prices had been overstated for computers that couldn’t be upgraded to the full-featured Premium version of Vista, which includes the Aero user interface.

The two people who originally filed the lawsuit didn’t take advantage of a program devised by Microsoft to advise customers on compatibility pre-launch. Despite that, both claimed that anyone who bought “Vista Capable” machines before January 2007, had been deceived because the majority of users could only run the stripped-down Basic version of Vista, which lacks the media centre, and Aero interface with flip 3D and thumbnails.

In May 2006 Microsoft issued an advisor tool that told Windows users whether their existing computer was able to be upgraded to Vista.

Redmond said at the time that customers could run a more basic GUI of the OS if they had an 800MHz CPU, 512MB of memory and any DirectX 9-capable graphics card. Together those specifications were enough for Microsoft to define a PC as being “Vista Capable”.

The software giant later described its efforts to prepare customers for its Vista onslaught as “a very broad and unprecedented effort” to help PC vendors, retailers and customers “understand the hardware requirements to run the various flavours of the Windows Vista operating system”.

Microsoft said it is reviewing the ruling, according to the AP. ®

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