Even Microsoft has trouble understanding what "Vista Capable" means

Even Microsoft has trouble understanding what "Vista Capable" means

Summary: When a Microsoft manager can't clearly explain what "Vista Capable" means, you know that the whole "Vista Capable" and "Premium Ready" thing has gone too far and that marketing has gone too far.


When a Microsoft manager can't clearly explain what "Vista Capable" means, you know that the whole "Vista Capable" and "Premium Ready" thing has gone too far and that marketing has gone too far.

Even Microsoft has trouble understanding what “Vista Capable” meansIn a deposition taken in relation to a class action lawsuit over the labeling of PCs as "Vista Capable" a Microsoft manager couldn't correctly describe what the term "Vista Capable" meant.

"Capable is a statement that has an interpretation for many that, in the context of this program, a PC would be able to run any version of the Windows Vista operating system," said Mark Croft, the company's director of marketing. " 'Ready' may have [prompted] concerns that the PC would run in some improved or better way than -- than 'Capable,' therefore the word capable was deemed to be a more fitting word for this program."

Actually, "Vista Capable" was only an indicator that the system could run Vista Home Basic, the lowest-priced and lowest spec version of Vista.

[poll id=205]

Eventually, Croft corrected himself (presumably after his lawyers pointed out that he wasn't helping Microsoft's case by getting things wrong):

After a 10-minute consultation with Microsoft's lawyers, Croft corrected himself. "I made the statement that ... Capable would be able to run any version of Windows Vista, whereas, in reality, our intent with Capable was that the system would be able to run a version of Windows Vista," he said. "So quite an important difference in the two -- two terms there."

I never liked the whole "Vista Capable" and "Premium Ready" thing because if it wasn't deceptive, it was certainly confusing for consumers (who, let's face it, read as far as "Vista" and then switch off).  In fact, I don't like Home Basic either because the whole thing feels deceptive to me this flavor of Vista feels like nothing more than a way for OEMs to push low-spec PCs that can barely run Vista onto unsuspecting consumers.  I'm not a big fan of class-action lawsuits and such but Microsoft went too far here and deserves all the bad press that it's getting over this issue.

Just say no to "Vista Capable" and say no to Vista Home Basic.


Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • i use home basic on my old laptop and it runs better

    i use home basic on my old laptop and it runs better than xp ever did on that old thing.

    home basic works on it because it's striped down with out all the eye candy crap that i usually turn off on a laptop any ways because i use it for work not play.

    my main box runs vista ultimate and my wifes computer which is my old gaming box runs vista home premium.

    i think Microsoft and the computer manufactures should put a logo that this computer will run

    1. all versions of vista or vista basic only.

    2. tell computer manufactures that only computers that meet the specs for the premium versions get the logo as capable.

    and i think your right about computer manufactures trying to unload the cheapest crap they can push on people. they do this because most computer buyers are clueless when buying a computer.

    look at what they do RAM is so cheap now that you can max a system out for under $200.00. they are still putting celeron cpus in some computers and not even the newest celerons that you can pick up every day for $ 20-30 every day of the week.

    a good video card now days not a high end but a good cheap video card can be got for under $50.

    yet dell hp acer and every other manufacture sells crap.

    and Microsoft gets a lot of flack because computers are sold with the bare minimum specs that will barely run an os. and then include all the crap they install with it 'it amazes me it will run at all.

    i remember when xp came out they were trying to pawn off computers with 60mb of ram 200mhz cpus a 5gb harddrive. and so on and so on.

    i know Microsoft does not have the power it used to have but with out windows computer manufactures are out of luck so Microsoft needs to tell these rip off artist "PC vendors"

    ether you put the OS on a computer with the right specs or you don't get the os.

    and on Microsoft's side they need to stop trying to put the minimum specs out saying this is what our os will run on.

    they only hurt them selfs when they do crap like that.

    the main reason i build my own computers is because if i tried to buy a computer with the specs i want it would run me 5k.

    and i can buy the parts and put it together for under 1k and if i recycle parts from my old computer "DVD burner hard drive power supply and so on" i get off way cheaper that.

    all though i use and like Microsoft software they really need to get some new marketing people.
    SO.CAL Guy
    • I agree

      I hate to bring Apple into the discussion, because I don't want this to turn into a Mac
      vs PC debate, but they release products that require people buy the latest and
      greatest hardware, and people complain and then they buy it and the industry moves
      forward. If Microsoft would demand that people have the latest and greatest stuff,
      manufacturers would have to make better PCs, and though everyone will complain, the
      industry will be forced to advance. Microsoft thinks they have to try and support
      everyone, but in reality they don't. The fact that they do holds the industry back, or at
      least gives little motivation to move forward.
      • Good points ...

        In truth, most Vista users will run it on brand new computers.

        Even the entry-level computers with only 512MB will run Vista without difficulties. Even AERO will run if you have Home Premium (or better) installed. Is 1GB of RAM recommended? Yes. Is 2GB the sweet spot? Yes. So?

        It's those folks with machines which are 3+ years old that find Vista TOO SLOW. Last fall, I was running Vista on a six-year-old Dell Dimension 4100 (866MHz, 512MB of PC133 RAM). It was painfully slow but it was exactly what I expected -- and, if I was willing to wait for five minutes at boot time, while the RAM cache was being populated, I could even do productive work -- with Outlook and IE7 open at the same time.

        Microsoft's MINIMUM requirements are always about half of what most people need for "acceptable" performance. It was that way with Windows NT, that way for Windows 2000, and that way for Windows XP. So?

        If your hardware is over two years old, you SHOULD NOT upgrade to Vista until you are ready to upgrade to a newer system.
        M Wagner
      • You all hold the industry back

        each time you pay for Vista. You fund them to play tricks and release nonsense and stifle innovation.

        A few hundred years ago the poor people used to pay priests to translate the bible from Latin for them. That's what paying for closed source is today, except that software ain't no religion ;-)
        • Are you sure?

          "except that software ain't no religion"

          Try telling that to the Windows and Apple Fan Boys... :)
          • re: Are you sure?

            And, of course, the *nix fundamentalists.

            There are a couple-three for each distro.
            M.R. Kennedy
      • Microsoft talk so much crap these days ..

        ... that even Microsoft can't make head nor tail of it. LOL.

        Perhaps they should change their business model and write an O/S that is so good that they could let people *choose* to buy it.

        That'd be interesting.
  • Slight error...

    [I]Just say no to ???Vista Capable??? and say no to Vista.{/I}

    There, fixed that for you. ;)
    • You may want to try again

      Some font that you are using is creating odd characters, and your little funny there is hard to read.

      Have a nice day.
      • I have found that ZDNet does that quite frequently

        To text that has been copied from certain text editors, like OO, for instance.

        Many people don't know that. I figured it out after it happened to me several times.
        Ole Man
    • Try again?

      [i]Just say no to ?Vista Capable? and say no to Vista.[/i]

      There, fixed that for you. ;)

      (Damn you shift key!!!)
      • Thanks! :)

  • I really don't see the problem

    Capable means just that. It can run Vista. Should not have to specify how well or which specific version. As long as it "can" run it.

    This is like minimum requirements. I don't expect to see glorious graphics with the bare minimum. I don't expect to run all the features just because something is capable.

    I see this as another reason to rob Microsoft of some more money. I don't much care for them and I would love to see them go broke or be split up, but if that doesn't happen, then don't create excuses to take some of their money.

    People need to come up with something better because I despise siding with Microsoft.
    • It also assumes

      that it can run all programs and all functions of all programs. Which is why Vista Capable could be misleading, because Vista Premium has multimedia capabilities that you are paying extra for that 90%+ of all PCs cannot run without added hardware.

      I think they should have used three categories: Vista Basic Ready, Vista Premium Ready, and Vista Ultimate Ready. Each implies that the hardware is capable of running all of the software and capable of utilizing all of the major functions of that software.
      Michael Kelly
      • Totally disagree

        [i]t also assumes that it can run all programs and all functions of all programs.[/i]

        Is a computer without WiFi "Linux Capable"? Linux supports WiFi but a computer without WiFi hardware can't utilize that feature of Linux. Many games will run without a 3D graphics card but you won't be able to turn on features like HDR. Some games like Unreal support multiplayer over LAN/Internet so does that mean that a non networked computer without a 3D graphics card is not "Unreal Capable"?

        That said, I don't understand why Microsoft made the distinction between Capable and Ready. What MS should have done is allowed any version of Vista to be installed on any hardware and simply turned off features that the hardware isn't capable of using during the install process. I don't understand why Vista Ultimate with Aero switched off (you can disable Aero on [b]all[/b] versions of Vista) can't run on a "Vista Capable" machine. Microsoft should have done something like that and saved consumers a lot of confusion. I agree with nucrash though that this is nothing to sue over.
        • the one that should be sued is the sales man that probably told

          the one that should be sued is the sales man that probably told the person that this pc is the best and will run anything you want play any game you want and will never bog down.

          when she was probably buying a bottom of the line celron based piece of crap with 256mb of ram.
          SO.CAL Guy
        • That's why

          I say get rid of the "Capable" label and replaced it with "Ready". The "Capable" label is what's confusing everybody, so just get rid of it and use something that's clear, forceful, and decisive. "Capable" is wimpy and a cop out, "Ready" is forceful and makes a statement that you can stand behind.

          But I also agree that this isn't "sue-worthy". It's just poor marketing.
          Michael Kelly
          • Totally agree

            I may have misunderstood your original post and if so, I apologize. Regardless, I totally agree with this one.
          • No need to apologize

            I don't mind a difference in opinion. ;)
            Michael Kelly
      • Implied vs. inferred

        It really boils down to how people interpreted "capable". I think it's more a case of people inferring what it could do rather than Microsoft implying what it could do.

        That said, however, the program was obviously confusing. Microsoft marketing messed up on this one. I don't think it's bad enough to warrant any lawsuits, but it certainly warrants bad PR.

        Carl Rapson