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Tech Titans, Big Retail Served In Microsoft Suit

Intel, HP, Dell, Best Buy among those subpoenaed by plaintiffs in class-action lawsuit over software giant's 'Vista Capable' marketing campaign.

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Those subpoenaed by the plaintiffs include Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, Acer, Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's Electronics and Wal-Mart, as well as analyst firms like Gartner, Enderle and NPD, and former Microsoft executive Jim Allchin, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday.

Some of the 29 total individuals and entities have already filed objections with Judge Marsha Pechman, the P-I reports.

The plaintiffs in the suit claim that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft was deceptive in labeling certain computers "Vista Capable" when in fact those systems required hardware upgrades to perform key functions of the Vista operating system such as the Aero Glass graphic user interface. Microsoft counters that Vista Capable logoed systems were able to perform a bare-bones version of the OS called Vista Home Basic.

Allchin, formerly head of Microsoft's Platforms and Service division, features prominently in a slew of internal Microsoft e-mails about the Vista Capable marketing campaign that were unsealed by Judge Pechman late last month. In a Feb. 1, 2006 e-mail to fellow Microsoft executives, he writes about problems with the Vista Capable campaign: "We really botched this. I was not involved in this decision process and I will support it because I trust you thinking through the logic."

Intel also features in the unsealed electronic discovery, but was the object of ire for Microsoft executives due to supposed graphical limitations of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel's 915 and 945 chipsets. Dell, HP, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and other companies are referred to throughout the discovery, with some of those companies' e-mail exchanges with Microsoft appearing as well.

The inclusion of analyst firms on the subpoena list might be explained by a section in the middle of the 158-page discovery that reprints several analysts' published remarks about Vista.

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