back to article Microsoft's 'Vista Capable' appeal thrown out

Microsoft’s has lost its attempt to overturn a key ruling in the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the decision in a court order yesterday. US district judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle, who originally approved the case, had halted proceedings while waiting for a decision from the …


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  1. Robert Lee

    Microsoft is right.. up to a point

    The label said 'Vista capable' and if it can run Vista Basic, then it 'is' running Vista, but an honest person or shop would be point that out to you before you buy so at least you know what you are buying.

    Simply put, it is deception to a point, but the line are kinda faint here, anyway, who wants to use that Vista crap anyway ? If it aint good enough for senior Microsoft bosses, it aint good enough for me.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    To be honest...

    ... This story has been a source of amusement for a while, go get 'em little guys...

    Until this weekend when the MS dev pack copy of Vista Ultimate from work accidentally came home with me, and just for the hell of it I thought I'd try it out.

    I installed it on my media centre Acer Aspire Idea 510, which is basically a laptop in a Hi-Fi sized box, nothing super special at all except it has 2 DVB tuners and is nice and quiet... T5500 cpu, 1 gig of ram and Nvidia 7600 Go video.

    I didn't for one minute thing it would do the full Aero Glass business, and if it did it was going to be as clunky as hell and quickly get turned off.

    But no, it did it, and it did it well, and that was at 1280x1024 on a real monitor, not just on the TV! I was quite amazed!

    So I have to wonder, what clunky pieces of doo doo did these people buy that had a Vista capable sticker on them? If they paid more that $400 I think they were stitched up!

    I'm even more amazed that my Vista hasn't yet crashed... I had some fun finding the drivers for the DVB cards, but apart from one instance when it just paused everything for 30 seconds when I was browsing a network share, it's been good as gold.

    Can I see a point in Vista? Err, no, it's very pretty, but apart from that I can't actually see any point to it. It will probably stay on the Media Centre machine, but that's only because having been through the Acer recover procedure once already, it's such a horrible mess I'm not going to do that again, oh and hopefully the ability to remotely add recording to the schedule will work from the UK in the Vista Media Center version, and not be a USA only "coming soon to rest of world" feature like the one in MCE2005

  3. TranceMist
    Gates Horns

    Buyer Beware

    People should know better than to trust marketing hype, especially in software.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Why is this a surprise?

    Given that this convicted predatory US monopolist has, to date, been fined over a *billion* dollars by the European Commission for its complete disregard of the law, and the fact that said corporation just dreams up its own "standards" for its own commercial benefit, rather than complying with the IETF RFCs and other standards that make the Internet work pretty well, why on Earth does anyone expect that its *advertising* is squeaky clean???

    Yes, I'm fed up with crap-quality, 80%-finished, bloated badly-written Microsoft software that doesn't work properly with anything else (except malware, of course)...

    Q - What's the definition of a dishonest Microsoft executive?

    A - He doesn't tell the truth even if you pay him for it...

  5. D
    Thumb Down

    I tried Vista on two year old machine and it was fine, but..........

    although it looked pretty and seemed very slick and stable I could not move large files between two PCs running Vista on my very small home network. Sometimes it would just hang forever on making the initial calculation for the time to transfer, other times it would get half way through transferring the files and loose the connection. In the end I just had to accept that it was incapable of performing this very basic task, and reinstall XP on both machines. I'd go to ubuntu but it doesn't have dreamweaver.

  6. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    @Anonymous Coward

    That'll be the Dual core then, to be honest it's not a bad spec machine at all, as for this case I have little regard for cases were people are just trying to fleece money, it's just one step away from benefit fruad in my eyes.

  7. Julian
    Gates Horns

    The Great Vista Swindle

    With leaked emails about Microsoft and Intel lowering the bar to sell low speced laptops as Vista Capable, and Steve Ballmer admitting that Vista is a work in progress. This could be very interesting. Personally I'm looking forward to seeing Microsoft squirm!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    May I be the first to say...

    (With the voice of Nelson Muntz)

    HA! HA!

  9. Rob Crawford

    Strikes me

    that much of the whinging is coming from 3 directions

    1: Opportunists

    2: People who bought a machine and but don't have a clue (shown by the fact that anybody with a modicum of knowledge won't touch a newly released MS operating system)

    3: Fanboys who where dissapointed (actually overlap with point 2)

    Nope I'm not an Apple, Linux, BSD or AmigaDOS fanboy

  10. Bill Gould
    Paris Hilton

    Right is right

    The stickers said "Vista Capable". So Vista Home Basic with Aero off is all that the machine is required to run.

    Damn litigious society that can't take any responsibility for itself.

    We have labels on motor oil saying "do not drink" because of lawsuits like this.

    Paris, because doesn't take responsibility either.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The law suit is frivolous

    The only way they can win is if they prove that it was not explained to them that Vista Home Basic does not contain these premium features. Which it was, because they made it pretty clear that Vista Home Premium had these features.

    And obviously these PCs are Vista Capable, Home Basic runs quite well on a friends PC with 512MB RAM.

  12. Steven Hewittt

    How is there even a case here?!

    Vista is Microsoft Windows Desktop Version 6. if I buy a Vista capable PC, I can run Version 6 of Windows.... so where's the case?

    And before people chip in about not having all the features, higher-end editions of Vista (e.g. Home Premium, Ultimate etc.) work fine on these machines - at worst you need to slap another 512Mb RAM to get good performance out of it. The only think these boxes won't do is Aero - which is a transparency effect on the windows and start bar....

  13. Mectron

    Intel should be fined a lot for that

    remove (better yet outlaw) Intel cheap integrated graphic and most of these vista capable computer can run vista premium just fine. I own a cheapo computer (cost less then 350$ to built) and use vista premium with media center on a nice 42" tv and it word like a charm. the thing only reboot because of windows update.

    In this case people should sue Intel for dumping they extrem low quality junk graphic chipset on them.

  14. Henry Cobb

    Thank goddess they have a partner!

    I suppose the terms of the settlement will be to mail each purchaser a copy of Novell Linux, which will run on the machines in question.

  15. Joe Zeff

    They knew in advance it was a dud.

    I think that the way Microsoft pushed OEMs to claim that low-end machines were "Vista Capable" when they were barely able to crawl with Vista Basic shows that they knew how bad it was in advance. Even before launch, they were preparing for a bad rollout by tricking people into buying machines that weren't really good enough to do the job, just to make sure they sold a lot of copies, and they wouldn't have needed to do that if they had had any confidence in their product.

    I've seen it said elsewhere that it may not be that Microsoft is selling badly-written programs because they can get away with it but because that's the best they can manage, and I think that this is the proof that they're no longer capable (if they ever were) of writing world-class software.

  16. Steven Raith

    knowledge of versions?

    "The label said 'Vista capable' and if it can run Vista Basic, then it 'is' running Vista, but an honest person or shop would be point that out to you before you buy so at least you know what you are buying."

    I know a guy with a car that runs on petrol and road capable. Yours very cheap. Not nicked or crashed.

    It only runs on 108RON petrol though, as it's a trackday special. Ex racecar, y'see.

    Oh, and it's not currently road legal - but add lights, speedo and a few other requirements and it'll all be cushty.

    You might need to pay for those 'extra features' though.

    What do you mean dishonest? I told you it runs on petrol and it's capable of going on the road, if you don't know the difference between a pseudo race car and a Ford Mondeo Ghia then that's your problem....

    I can see how [most] people [IE not us] would be fooled by the ads showing the fancy interface and media bits, see the sticker saying 'vista capable' and then be quite annoyed when the machine they just put £500 on [at the time] won't take it - it's legally borderline misrepresentation, not too disimilar to the old 'screen size' case of a few years back with relation to visible screen sizes.

    Obviously the retailers and OEMs have a part to play in this as well, but can you really see them doing anything about it when they can just hide under MSs legal dept who have ok'd the certification for the hardware specs for 'capability'? Get a grip.

    Giving MS a bitchslap about this in court [the publicity enough would do it] might stop them from pulling this sort of crap again. Not that likely, admittadly, but you never know....

  17. Neil Lewis
    Gates Horns

    Misleading labels+misleading adverts=misleading

    The fact is, most of MS adverts/publicity for Vista emphasised the Aero interface and whizzbang new features. MS weren't so forthcoming about the limited nature of the Basic version.

    Unless buyers were specifically told that their "Vista Capable" machines could only run a cut down version I believe they would have been justified in expecting them to be able to use the Vista they had been told about (loudly) by MS in the mainstream media.

    Vista or any other MS stuff will never poison any of my Linux boxes, but I can understand the average non-tech-savvy buyer being misled.

    This sort of trick is not new where MS (or other IT players) are concerned, but MS are still the biggest and it's the nail that stands up that gets hammered.

  18. John
    Thumb Down

    False Claims?

    OK, so if Microsoft is getting sued for saying that a PC was Vista capable, ergo, false advertising. Shouldn't Apple be sued for the same? For years they have said that their PCs were the fastest around. But it has been proven time and again that they aren't. So where is the lawsuit? Nowhere. Because Apple can do no wrong. But the eval Microsoft, they have to walk the straight and narrow or else. Give me a break.

  19. horace

    iso's darkest hour.

    I have recently read an article in the Britih Micro Mart magazine which recounts the sad demise of a once respected body, that has know become the plaything of a multi-national company.

    I won't go in to details but it strongly implies that Microsoft have been up to more dirty tricks and corruption that one would have thought possible.

  20. Sid

    Q - Whats the definition of an honest Microsoft executive?

    A - An oxymoron

    As someone who's just bought a shiny new laptop with Vista installed and is having to wait a week for a (paid for) copy of XP so I can get rid of this cr*p, the idea of any MS executive actually understanding 'why' people get upset over their false promises is akin to why Maggie used to wonder why miners were striking?

    If anyone hasn't seen that vomit inducing viral of MS employees singing Vistas' praises I suggest they do so at the first opportunity. Not only does it strengthen the view that MS is incapable of understanding 'real' users, it also confirms that MS now employ followers rather than leaders.

    A machine says 'Vista Capable' when it's not, it's 'Cut down Vista Capable' because, lets face it, you can probably install it on a a 486 with 256k of memory should you suddenly lose your facilities as long as there is a badge on the front saying so. But Joe User, unaware of the differences, should not be punished for his lack of knowledge, its not Joe users fault, it's the slimy greasy MS executives for selling a product 'not fit for use'.

    Please people don't ever defend this obsfucation by blaming the user. Ignorance is no defence, I'll admit, but it doesn't follow that the opposite should hold.

    People bought 'Vista capable' machines because of promises made that were simply untrue. If MS employ people who lie, they should be forced through the application of laws, to receive a just punishment.

  21. David Simpson


    "I installed it on my media centre Acer Aspire Idea 510, which is basically a laptop in a Hi-Fi sized box, nothing super special at all except it has 2 DVB tuners and is nice and quiet... T5500 cpu, 1 gig of ram and Nvidia 7600 Go video.

    I didn't for one minute thing it would do the full Aero Glass business, and if it did it was going to be as clunky as hell and quickly get turned off."

    You really didn't think a CoreDuo, 1GB of Ram and an Nvidia 7600 Go would run Vista with Aero ? I think you may be ripping the arse out of it.

    My media center also got upgraded to Vista with a 3000+ Athlon64/1GB/Nvidia 6600 and it was fine, i upgraded it recently for HD playback but you really must not have read the system requirements. For future use you will find them printed on the side of the box.

    Most of the people complaining are annoyed because their wonderful 915GM intel graphics would not run Aero, a fact intel covered up even though beta versions of Vista ran Aero fine on 915.

    WindowBlinds can do wonders without DX9 its a pity M$ didn't try a little harder, OSX certainly doesnt need to much GFX power to run all their pretty graphics, my old G3 can run tiger surprisingly well.

    I think M$ should realise they could have avoided all this crap by simply delivering their products on time.

  22. Charles Manning

    MS has big problems here

    1) The biggest. Internal leaked emails show that MS's own senior management and OEMs were suckered by the Vista Capable labelling. If they knowly went ahead with this labelling then they were intentionally misleading customers.

    2) They made a big deal of discontinuing XP to force people to select XP. Remember when they said an XP SP3 was not possible and XP would be terminated? They have since (or are about to) released SP3 and still sell XP.

    3) Monkeyboy has publicly stated that Vista is work in progress. How can they sell it then?

    Class actions have floated, and have won, on far more pathetic grounds than this.

    Sure MS has faced class actions before, but just from a few disgruntled folks. Never before has there been such a big groundswell of anti-Windows feeling.

    MS have made a noose for themselves here.

  23. Gordon

    Where is the case?

    They said it could run Vista. Vista Basic IS Vista. What's the beef???

    Frankly. This is equivelent to me marching into a car dealership, buying a new car without asking any questions and then suing the dealership because the basic model I bought doesn't have sat-nav like my friends top-of-the-line car does.

  24. Kanhef


    Define 'fastest'. Highest clock speed, most FLOPS, bit/s throughput, etc. And what benchmark/application and configuration are you testing? There's enough wiggle room for Apple to find some measure by which it's 'fastest', which is how they get away with it.

  25. Julian
    Thumb Down


    I bought an HP computer with Vista Business installed, primarily because it didn't have a shiny screen, reflections and all that, but the price was also very good too. The Spec. seemed OK and I put in an extra Gig of Ram.

    It ran like a dog with lots of issues and I subsequently noticed that the Vista sticker said 'Basic' in very small letters underneath the usual Logo, obvious when you've noticed but equally obviously designed to be overlooked. So HP sold a computer with Vista Business installed on a computer which they considered only fit for Vista Basic. Who's responsible? HP or me?

    After restoring the computer to it's original state several times in the vain hope of improving things, I downgraded to XP Pro and now have a computer that runs very nicely thank you, except for a hardware quirk also present and more troublesome in Vista. The computer has to be started in the same power state (mains or battery) in which it was turned off or else it freezes, presumably during hardware detection. I think it has something to do with the ethernet card which powers off on battery if there is no connection present. Running in Vista, removal of the cable would completely lock up the computer, leading to a reset.

  26. jay019

    Vista capable?

    When I saw my laptop with a "Vista Capable" sticker. I read it as saying "Stick Linux on this thing and watch it fly!!!"

    From my own testing this turned out to be very true.

  27. Brian Miller
    Thumb Down

    We seem to have

    A lot of people on here that are obviously on microsofts books. I am so disillusioned with the world right now that I would not believe anyone who thinks that the gov, and big corps. don't hire people just to sit and blogspin all over the most popular internet news/blogs.

    I can only hope that their brazen faced half-truths, coddleswallup, and damn lies affect their personal lives to the point that they are driven to suicide or better, honesty.

    YOU SUCK. (you know who you are, and you are filling the world with hate.)

  28. James Pickett


    "obvious when you've noticed but equally obviously designed to be overlooked"

    Exactly. It's the intention that matters, and if MS were trying to be honest, they would have mentioned it. They didn't, so they weren't.

    (Tux, just to raise Ballmer's blood pressure.)

  29. Ronny Cook
    Gates Horns

    Vista capabilities and Vista Basic.

    So here's what happens.

    (1) MS advertise Vista as having features X, Y and Z.

    (2) You buy a new PC that's Vista Capable; it says so on the box.

    (3) Vista finally comes out and you find that the version of Vista that can actually run on your PC supports feature Z but not X and Y.

    Can't blame them for being ticked off personally.

    Saying that a PC runs Vista fine if you bump up the RAM doesn't cut it. Any PC is capable of running pretty much anything if you upgrade some subset of RAM, CPU, motherboard, memory, PSU, hard drives, optical drive... but the PC you wind up with isn't the same PC with which you started.


  30. Peter Kay

    They haven't got a hope and @Brian Miller

    To take an analogy with the TV industry which uses 'HD compatible' to mean, er, fuck all.

    Brian.. you may not like it, but some people have no problems with Vista - even the ones running Vista experience 1.0 graphics (horribly slow, no aero). Unless, of course, you're deluded enough to think every positive report on the net is from MS.

    It doesn't help that Intel's integrated graphics are rather crap, but Vista Basic is still Vista.

    If you want a real laugh, go and look at 'upgradeable' PCs. The only truly upgradeable systems have used commodity components and depended on Intel to have a favourable roadmap. The 440BX, in particular, was current for a very long time.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats the point with no AERO

    Steven Hewittt said "The only think these boxes won't do is Aero - which is a transparency effect on the windows and start bar....

    Which looks like total garbage. Without the transparency one would be better off running XP with the thousands of modified msstyle themes. Sometimes I play a video on my vista laptop and it has to change my theme to the basic vista theme and it transforms to a POS looking desktop. There is a big difference. The bottom line is MS never intended to ship vista on machines that could not run the glass. Intel's 965 chipset was not ready for vista and MS and Intel wanted to keep sales of hardware up when they should have done the right thing and just outfitted these machines with XP until they got there heads out of their rears and released the X3100 graphics that could finally handle AERO.

    Personally, I think the correct course of action would be for MS to provide a full version of XP pro for anyone who bought a "vista capable" machine. This would not cost MS much.. just a couple of bucks to stamp the discs and it would give those customers a better OS for machines that lack the hardware to run AERO glass. Without the Glass... whats the point of Vista? XP already is a leaner and meaner coded OS thats runs faster and is more productive. If it can't run the Aero glass then its just a complete total waste.

  32. paul

    @Ronny Cook

    Finally , someone with some sense.

    I never understand why people defend M$ even when they are obv in the wrong and a judge says so!

    All you M$ fanboys say linux is to difficult to learn, I wont get involved but that is/was a valid point of view.

    So in that way of thinking , Windows is meant to be for the people new to computers. Labels like vista capable should HELP their purchase decisions, not work in M$ favour to sell more copies.

    Now someone is going to knit pick cause I used m$, Well F*ck off and go pickup ballmers chairs.

  33. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Of course "Vista capable" is dishonest!

    And you know it. Quit claiming being able to barely limp along with Vista Home means a machine is Vista capable. Microsoft screwed themselves on this -- even executives within the company were like "I wouldn't do that if I were you" and surprised when they bought "Vista capable" machines to find out that actually they aren't. If it had said "Vista Home capable" that'd be a different matter, but they do not.

    To me this'd be like "Oh, sure this machine with 64MB of RAM and 1GB HD is XP capable, it'll run Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs which is XP-based."

  34. Moss Icely Spaceport

    This has been going on for years

    MS have always underspecified the requirements to "run" their software. This is to be entirely expected. Many other companies do the same thing with their products. Rule of thumb: Just double everything - it's the only way to be sure!

  35. Anonymous Coward


    Paul: "Windows is meant to be for the people new to computers*. Labels like vista capable should HELP their purchase decisions, not work in M$ favour to sell more copies"

    *remember MS-DOS 3.3? that ran on hardware the fraction of what you get now, and could run a fraction of the software you can run now. IT is now far more universal, which means the vast majority of users on this planet who buy and use PCs are NOT from the IT industry therefore what happens under the lid is just, well, too much a black art to even think about asking any questions: lets just call them the HI's (happy ignorants). I reckon the IT:HI split is about 3%:97%.

    The Vista-capable logo comfort factor, as in trust by this majority, is reinforced by other products such as Ronseal : "[It] does exactly what it says on the tin"... although I think with M$ track record, Ronseal might be regarded a bit better than M$ (for protecting timber, not writing software: just thought I'd point that out). ....hmmm, maybe pouring a bucket of Ronseal in thru the USB port might help the new Vista laptop?....

    Thats how M$ is as big as it is, and why they will do anything to maintain its market share/profit. Remember people, as IT goes forward the KISS principle is more critical than ever for the HIs. Linux needs a high-profile supporter who is not IT, and can show very quickly the ease of adding software and using it - bugger me, what a scoop! penny dropped , rolling on floor... shit, just hot-wire Paris to do it... if you linux bods can tighly package linux app install etc and stage it for Paris, M$ would crap its pants, coz if Paris can do it, 2-day old roadkill can do it

  36. Dangerous Dave

    Another thing that's bugged me...along the same lines

    When they released HD LCDs and Plasma's badged as 1080i "HD Ready" and "High Definition" and people bought them in their millions

    18 months down the line....well actually, those arent actually PROPER HD, you have to stump up for a 1080P now to enjoy the full hi-def experience, and still some of those dont support 24fps properly so you get a stupid judder when watching blu-ray


  37. Peter Kay

    'proper HD' and 'non Aero Vista'

    Well, yes, they are *proper HD* - in fact 'HD Ready' is almost entirely analogous to 'Vista Capable'. 'HD Capable' may be complete marketing bullshit, but HD Ready must at least display a 720p HD signal, which whatever way you look at it is a considerable improvement over DVD.

    Insisting on 1080p isn't useful when the display device is under 32" in any case as you're unlikely to be able to tell the difference. You'd better hope your HD source is authored at 1080p too, instead of upscaling 720p..

    I'd also take issue with the statement that Vista is 'useless without aero'. I may be in a minority here, but it's about functionality, not pretty windows. Yes, Aero does lead to a smoother multimonitor environment, but flip 3D isn't much to write home about.

    If you reverted XP from its telytubby default to the Windows 2000 look, it's still XP, with all the associated improvements that entails. Same with Vista. Same with your telly - it's still HD, even if it's not as functional as you'd like.

  38. Slaine

    always read the small print

    The average car advert shows the top-of-the-range, all singing, all dancing, super-spec extra $30,000 (£15,000) version of the basic model whose price is at the more attractive (starting from... ) range that you will see in BIG FRIENDLY letters on the screen. The small print legally absolves the advertiser from being sued because hidden deep within the tiny letters which inform you that the model shown here is the jet propelled, chauffeur driven upgrade.

    So, "Vista Capable" computers are the basic model, the ones with no power steering, no turbo charge, no reverse gear, no doors, no seats, no wiper blades, no radio, 2 wheels missing etc... but it <is> the basic model. All I ask is, where is the "disclaimer" to absolve the advertisers dream from the cruel and cold reality of sitting alone in a shed?

    I have a bicycle here for sale - I guarantee it does a cool 100mph and I offer it to you now for £10,000 (the bike is a basic model which will only get you up to about 30mph, if you wish to realise the bike's top speed you have to cycle it off a very very high cliff with a rucksack full of bricks on your back).

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