How misleading was the "Windows Vista Capable" campaign?

How misleading was the "Windows Vista Capable" campaign?

Summary: How misleading was the "Windows Vista Capable" campaign that Microsoft ran during the run-up to the January release of the operating system? Seems that it was misleading enough for a judge to approve a federal trial for the class action suit. The trial is scheduled for October.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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How misleading was the "Windows Vista Capable" campaign that Microsoft ran during the run-up to the January release of the operating system?  Seems that it was misleading enough for a judge to approve a federal trial for the class action suit.  The trial is scheduled for October.

Some background.  Two Windows XP PC buyers, Dianne Kelley and Kenneth Hansen, filed a class action lawsuit in March claiming that Microsoft used "bait and switch" tricks to sell XP systems labeled as "Windows Vista Capable" which, as it turned out, could only run the lowest, most cut-down version of Vista - Home Basic.  Home Basic meant no media center support and no Aero.  Microsoft had asked that the case be dismissed; the judge decided that the case should proceed.

It's highly unlikely that this case will make it to court, but it's still interesting that the case has gone this far.  The only problem with class-action suits is that the only people who win are lawyers.

[poll id=165]

But the question remains - was the "Windows Vista Capable" campaign deceptive?  My take on it at the time was the whole campaign was too complicated.  The whole "Vista Capable" verses "Vista Ready" distinction make it too difficult for consumers to pick a system that was right for them - all some would have seen was a Vista sticker - how many customers that needed a sticker to tell them that a system could run Vista would know of the different versions?

This is a mistake that's likely to cost Microsoft a fair few bucks, make the lawyers involved richer and leave consumers with vouchers worth a few bucks.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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41 comments
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  • Non Sequitur

    [i]Seems that it was misleading enough for a judge to approve a federal trial for the class action suit.[/i]

    At this stage of a lawsuit, the merits of the case are not before the Court. Don't make the mistake of confusing procedure with substance.

    The only ones who will be in a position to comment on the merits of the complaint will be the jury after hearing the evidence; the judge's job is matters of law, not fact.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Windows Users Deserve It

      Everyone that buys a computer without questioning what OS they get deserves all
      the pain they suffer.

      Microsoft has lied, stolen, cheated, and abused everyone for such a long time that
      if you buy and use their products, you deserve it.

      Sorry about your mom, but she deserves it. If she buys a computer, then buys
      Windows Vista to put on it, and it doesn't work, and it deletes her files, and she is
      denied a refund, then she gets whats coming to her.

      Like smokers that are dying of lung cancer, they deserve it.

      Collectively, all of you have given Microsoft this power over you.

      Now, you will bow down before your master.

      Yep, that's right. That computer you purchased last year is no longer viable. That
      was the plan. You will buy Windows Vista, and when it does not work, you will buy
      a new computer with Vista already on it.

      You will do what your master bids of you.

      Still confused?
      Chris Prits
  • Seems they have the wrong defendant

    MS didn't put the sticker on the box. The computer maker did that.

    If Gateway put an "OSX capable" sticker on their machines, is it Apple's fault when OSX doesn't work?
    j.m.galvin
    • Agreed

      And I will even add that it's about time the consumers take responsability. I mean pretty much everyone will agree that suing say Mcdonald's for not telling you their food makes you fat is irresponsable yet the wonders of democracy will let you go to court and there is even a slight chance your case will be heard and your lack of intelligence put on display for the world to see...

      The vista capable thing is exactly the same. Worst yet, the same people complaining about the "deceptive" nature of the campaing are the very same people who are flaming Vista on Blogs and forums.

      If you are mentally challenged enough to think a cheap underpowered PC from last year can run the latest ressource hungry OS you deserve to be ridiculed.

      I sincerely hope this case gets dismissed. Not because I like Microsoft but because I would like the message to be sent to dumb customers. A PC is a serious purchase decision and you need to ASK QUESTIONS before you buy.
      MisterGilles
      • They shouldn't have to ask

        When I go to buy a car I don't have to ask if the car runs on unleaded or diesel or if its a hybrid, the sticker in the window tells me.

        If I were an average computer consumer and not an IT pro I would take the label on the computer at face value when it says that it will run Windows Vista that it will, not that the base OS will run and the features I want to use won't. It's not too much to ask for a spec sheet that says this computer is Windows Vista Basic compatible, and a higher end model to say Windows Vista Ultimate compatible, etc. Its good customer service and allows the consumer to know what they are buying.
        jfp
        • But that MPG rating you see on the sticker...

          ... in most cases is not representative of what you're going to get in real-life driving. Do you sue the car company for not telling you that most people go faster than the speed limit and otherwise have driving habits that usually cause the MPG to be quite a bit less than what they rate the car at?

          The sticker says Vista-Capable, and it's capable of running Vista. The "features" you can't run are mostly the Aero interface, and there's few if any apps that require Aero to run. So, I say you've still gotten you money's worth with all the other Vista features like desktop search and security/networking improvements, and you're probably experiencing fewer driver problems than people who shelled out more on hardware with their hearts set on running Aero.
          jcg_z
          • Fuel ratings are . . .

            designed to be consistant. Will they reflect YOUR Fuel Economy? Probably not. But they ARE enough to allow you to decide which car will be better, your driving habits notwithstanding. The same consideration should be there for PC buyers. Most people aren't technically inclined enough to know anything past "Vista". If they see Vista Capable, they have the right to expect it to run what they want, which will be the flashy Vista they saw in the TV commercial. What they end up with is Basic, which is nothing more than XP warmed over . . .

            MS should have seen this and used "Vista Basic" and "Vista Aero-capable", if nothing else . . .

            They should have known that someone would try to sue them in this day and age . . .
            JLHenry
        • But if you buy a house...

          You better ask all sorts of questions. You should have the thing inspected.

          You would also inspect a car before you license it.

          If you were going to put a different engine in the car, you would want to know that you would get the full potential out of that engine.

          People should be more responsible for their actions.

          I don't want to agree with Microsoft, but I am not one to attack them just because I don't like them.
          nucrash
      • Dismissal

        [i]I sincerely hope this case gets dismissed.[/i]

        The grounds for dismissal are "failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted." The Court has to take [u]everything[/u] according to the Plaintiffs' version and the only way it can be dismissed is if the complaint itself is defective (think the Wallace suits, where he alleged things that aren't illegal).

        Facts simply aren't a part of the case yet.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • RE Agreed ...

        [i]"...the same people complaining about the "deceptive" nature of the
        campaing are the very same people who are flaming Vista on Blogs and
        forums."[/i] Just a wild guess?

        "If you are mentally challenged enough to think a cheap underpowered [i]PC
        from last year[/i] can run the latest[i] ressource hungry[/i] [b]'Vista' [/b]OS
        you deserve to be ridiculed." [i]Yes[/i]

        If you are mentally challenged enough to think a cheap underpowered [i]PC
        from last year[/i] can run the latest [b]'Linux'[/b] OS, you deserve to be
        ridiculed. huh?, I would say [i]Not[/i]

        "I sincerely hope this case gets dismissed."
        This is not new territory for Microsoft. They'll be aiight. ;)
        ruped24
      • Imagine your Mom

        Not you, goes into a store and sees two computers. One says

        [B]Vista Capable[/B]
        the other says
        [B]Vista Ready[/B]

        She knows only that she needs a new computer. Think about it, without knowing, what does the above really mean to someone who doesn't know Windows != Computer?

        Which does she pick. LOL, you haven't been to Best Buy or CompUSA lately, most of the staff had no real idea what they meant either.

        I don't think the lawsuit has a lot of merit, caveat emptor, but I [B]can[/B] see their point, and think that MS did a disservice to itself, and the OEMs with it's Christmas push of Capable VS Ready campaign.

        TripleII
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Who's program was it?

      I am under the impression that the "Vista Capable" program was created by MS and that MS set the rules for OEMs to qualify. I can't imagine that OEMs were doing this on their own.
      John L. Ries
      • Sucks when you don't run your own company

        Through the golden handcuff that is a teir 1 OEM (or Royalty OEM, Shade taught me that) where you get advertising monies, and other perks when you follow the rules set out by MS. None of them had a real choice (or foresaw the extensive problems) or resisted when the mandate came down.

        The OEMs probably were all in favor of this since it was a "save Christmas" project.

        TripleII
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • I still can't agree with that

        Usually you?re required to sue the party that caused the ?harm?. In this case it would be the computer maker who said the thing could run Vista when the machine could not according to the customer's understanding. Following normal procedures, that computer maker could file a third party complaint against MS if they felt that MS had been the cause of the ?harm?.

        In this case the plaintiffs sue the maker of, not even a working component, but a future add on; the new OS. That new OS is not necessary to the proper functioning of the machine as it would run on the installed XP.

        I?m sure some class action shyster is just doing the usual trolling for deep pockets. They play the game of billable hours. It?ll cost MS a zillion dollars just to meet discovery orders, paying their lawyers 500 bucks an hour. So MS might choose to ?settle? so as to keep their legal bills down. It a pretty typical trial lawyer shakedown.
        j.m.galvin
        • Division of Responsibility

          MS "not my fault, the pc manufacturer is to blame"

          PC OEM "not my fault, MS told us that it would..."

          Common practice. Create the illusion that there are two seperate parties, one can
          blame the other forever, neither will take responsibility.

          Not going to work anymore. MS is losing major suits all over the globe. Recently a
          600+million dollar suit in Europe.

          Collusion is held as criminal activity. You can deny it all you want, but it is coming
          to an end very quickly.
          Chris Prits
          • My roof leaks

            The Contractor says Owens Corning produced bad shingles, will not live up to
            warranty.

            Owens Corning says the Contractor installed them incorrectly.

            The Jury in the case said they BOTH have to pay to fix my roof, and all other damage
            caused as a result of the leak.
            Chris Prits
  • it's a misunderstanding

    only the case is ?Windows Vista Capable?
    jteasley1
    • At least...

      this one's funny :)
      jcg_z
    • LOL! (nt)

      nt = no text
      CobraA1
  • The land of litigation

    Given the propensity of Americans to sue for anything, this doesn't say anything about the merits of the case. As for the poll, it shows the usual suspects.
    tonymcs1