Class action: 'Vista capable' badge was a lie

Lawyers for plaintiffs in a case brought against Microsoft over its badging of PCs as "Vista capable" have claimed that even the software giant's marketing director was confused by the prelaunch campaign in the US.

Lawyers bringing a class action suit against Microsoft over its badging of PCs as "Vista capable" have claimed that even Microsoft's marketing director was baffled by the prelaunch campaign in the US.

The case involves the way Microsoft marketed PCs as "Windows Vista capable" prior to the consumer launch of the operating system in January.

Plaintiffs Dianne Kelley and Kenneth Hansen claim Microsoft was not telling the truth when it put the "Vista capable" logo on PCs that would be capable of running only Vista Home Basic. They contend that "Vista capable" implies that the machine is able to run all versions of Vista, rather than just the pared-down Home Basic version.

In a filing for a class action at the US district court in Seattle earlier this month, lawyers acting for the plaintiffs claimed that even Microsoft's director of marketing, Mark Croft, had become confused about the meaning of "Vista capable" when giving evidence.

Want to know more?

    For all the latest news, analysis and opinion on Windows, click here

Croft's explanation was that "'capable' has an interpretation for many that, in the context of this program, a PC would be able to run any version of the Windows operating system."

"Ready," Croft continued, "may (cause) concerns that the PC would run in some improved or better way than 'capable.'"

After a 10-minute break to talk to Microsoft's lawyers, Croft admitted he had made "an error" and retracted his previous statement, saying that by "capable" Microsoft meant "able to run a version of Vista."

In the filing, the plaintiffs' lawyers said that it was "ironic" Croft had made the mistake. "Mr. Croft understood Microsoft's logo to be telling customers that PCs would run not only the stripped-down Vista Home Basic, but also what plaintiffs contend are the 'real' versions of Vista: the ones that include Microsoft's heavily marketed 'Vista features.' Ironically, Mr. Croft's understanding of what 'Windows Vista capable' means is the same understanding that Microsoft asserts no consumer would be justified in having."

The Seattle-based law firm acting for the plaintiffs -- Gordon, Tilden, Thomas and Cordell -- is seeking to prove that Microsoft developed its "Windows Vista capable" marketing program, including the logo and the "express upgrade to Windows Vista" promotion, to maintain Windows XP sales prior to the launch of Vista.

Microsoft is fighting the claim. The software company claims that itself, OEMs, retailers and the press had informed consumers about what "Vista capable" meant.