by Timothy Lee
Wed, Nov 28th 2007 3:31am
In April we noted a lawsuit charging Microsoft with deceptive advertising for slapping a "Vista Capable" label on computers that will only run the Home Basic version of Windows. The lawyers are currently taking depositions in that case, and we're learning that even Microsoft's own executives can't keep their story straight. Apparently, a Microsoft executive stated that "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." Not surprisingly, his lawyers quickly pulled him aside and pointed out that this statement was undermining their case, and he quickly changed his tune and said that "capable" meant able to run at least one version of Windows Vista. So Microsoft deservedly has egg on its face here. Still, I'm torn about whether a lawsuit is appropriate. Home Basic clearly is a version of Windows Vista, and so the statement that the machines were "Vista Capable" is technically true, albeit misleading. I just checked HP and Dell's website, and they're both selling their low-end machines with Home Basic. Unless there's evidence that consumers received more specific promises from sales reps or in marketing materials, it seems like a stretch to interpret "Vista Capable" as a promise that the machines would be able to run every version of Vista. Microsoft is getting some richly deserved bad press here, and that may be enough to make them be more careful in the future. It's not clear a class action lawsuit will accomplish anything beyond enriching the lawyers involved.
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