updated 04:55 pm EST, Tue February 12, 2008
MS Vista Capable Misled
Microsoft was aware during Windows Vista's development that its "Vista Capable" certification and logo would mislead customers into buying inadequate computers, say new documents revealed as evidence in bringing an upcoming class-action lawsuit against the software producer. Internal e-mail obtained by the plaintiffs in the complaint reveal that workers at Microsoft had doubts about the specifications needed to receive the "Vista Capable" logo, which the plaintiffs themselves say were made deceptively low to encourage purchases that would otherwise have waited until Vista's release or never taken place at all. Many of these messages were exchanged while the logo promotion was underway and affected senior staffers, a courtroom hearing has shown.
"I PERSONALLY got burnt," said Mike Nash, now a product marketing VP for the company. "Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? [...] I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."
Since-departed Platforms and Services head Jim Allchin also took to task staff responsible for the logo's requirements, telling them that they had "botched" the program. Wal-Mart and other key retailers were also discovered to have contact Microsoft about their worries of a potential backlash stemming from the low system requirements suggested by the logo.
Microsoft responded in court by arguing that the e-mail had been taken out of context and that the disputes were part of the review process. The Windows developer's attorneys argued that the "Vista Capable" program ultimately reflected improvements made in this process and that a class action lawsuit was excessive, as some customers were more readily aware of what Vista would ultimately require than others.
The "Vista Capable" logo was developed in the latter portion of 2006 as a response to an unexpected delay in Vista's release to January 2007, which left many computer manufacturers without a new operating system they expected would drive sales during the holidays. In the program, customers who bought the systems were told not only that their systems would suffice for Vista but were also given a coupon for a free or low-cost upgrade to Vista once it was available to the public.
A ruling on whether the lawsuit can proceed as filed is expected in roughly 10 days.