Microsoft Faces Class Action Over Vista Campaign

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A U.S. District Court judge has given the green light to a class action lawsuit against Microsoft over its Windows Vista Capable marketing campaign.

In a ruling issued late last week, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman said lawyers for the plaintiffs will be allowed to make their case that the Vista Capable campaign allowed Microsoft to artificially inflate demand and prices for PCs that were only capable of running Vista Home Basic, the simplest of the four versions of the OS.

Microsoft launched the Vista Capable campaign before the 2006 holiday season to keep PC sales strong after it delayed the release of Vista until the following January. PC makers placed 'Vista Capable' sticker on new Windows XP machines which entitled consumers to a free or discounted upgrade to Vista, and Microsoft later added a 'Premium Ready' designation for machines that were able to run the higher end versions.

Those eligible to participate in the class action suit include: "All persons and entities residing in the United States who purchased a personal computer certified by Microsoft as "Windows Vista Capable" and not also bearing the "Premium Ready" designation," according to the ruling.

However, Judge Pechman refused to let the plaintiffs proceed with claims that Microsoft's deceptive advertising led consumers to but PCs that they wouldn't have otherwise bought.

The judge also ruled that customers who took part in Microsoft's Express Upgrade program aren't eligible to participate in the class action. In the Express Upgrade program, Microsoft included coupons with each Windows XP SKU that entitled users to a free or discounted Vista upgrade after it shipped.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the vendor is currently reviewing the court's ruling.

"We believe the facts will show that Microsoft offered different versions of Windows Vista, including Windows Vista Home Basic, to meet the varied needs of our customers purchasing computers at different price points," the spokesperson said in an email to ChannelWeb.

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