back to article Ballmer's bid to swerve 'Vista Capable' row comes unstuck

MS CEO Steve Ballmer has been ordered by a federal judge to testify in a class action lawsuit over the ongoing “Vista Capable” debacle. In September Ballmer tried to distance himself from the row by claiming he had no direct involvement in Microsoft’s marketing campaign for the operating system. But US District Judge Marsha …


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  1. Iain

    I for one

    may have missed an old, old boat with this post, but I only noticed last night that on my mum's laptop (not a high end gaming rig, I hasten to add) which boasted a 1.4Ghz Celeron M with 256MB RAM and 64MB Integrated Graphics proudly displays what must be one of the first brood of the Vista Compatible stickers (from '06, when all this was fields). I can only hope they become collecters items post-lawsuit and I can sell it for a vast sum on a well known international flea-market.

  2. M

    Here's Hoping

    That the judge finds the sweaty monkey dance as amusing as I did. I have cut down my viewings of the youtube clip to just 200 a day now.

  3. Jamie Kitson

    To Quote Nelson

    Ha Ha

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    Bet that cheered him up.

    Anyone in the vicinity notice any suspiciously chair sized holes appear in the windows of the MS offices when that news broke?

  5. Mark
    Jobs Horns

    He gets paid the big bucks

    because his job is risky.

    "The buck stops here", Ballmer.

    (because Satan Jobs looks more like Satan Ballmer than Satan Gates does)

  6. JW Otherworld
    Paris Hilton

    Set Theory is that ''Vista Capable' includes all versions of Vista

    If they knew that these specifications would *only* be capable of running Vista Home, maybe, the label should have read as 'Vista Home Capable'. To really nail it down explicitly, 'Only Vista Home Capable (Maybe)'.

    Therefore 'Vista Capable' has to be considered a fraudulent statement because they knew it to be untrue and would no doubt mislead some people to think that they could install the top-of-the-line Vista when it became available. Untruth in Advertising, ain't it just a shame?

    They're trying to 'wiggle' out of their responsibility then, but I say 'No wiggling allowed'

    (unless it's Paris of course, because she has a very fine 'wiggle' IMHO).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Hang him...

    .. hang 'em high.

  8. Nuno


    those computer are better off with XP, anyway...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    let me be the first to say


    /takes deep breath.... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I hope there are numerous transcripts of little stevie tap dancing around the questions. Oh maybe the judge will have to tell him to actually answer the questions or face contempt charges ~crosses my fingers~, one can only hope.

    that is all

  10. Chris C

    re: Set Theory...

    JW Otherworld nailed it. They advertised "Vista Capable". Without specifying a specific version of Vista, the purchaser must conclude the computer is capable of running any and all versions of Vista.

    To analogize, if you purchase a stereo system that is advertised as "iPod capable", do you question which iPod can be used, or will you assume they all can? How would you feel to find out that it's only the first-generation iPod that works, and not your brand new nano?

    As for anyone who wants to argue the definition of "capable", here's another analogy. Any 33/45 turntable can play a 78, but that doesn't mean the audio produced will be as intended.

  11. JimC

    Dunno what you folks are getting excited about...

    All this means is that he has to arrange a time and place to be "interviewed" by one of the other side's lawyers. Obviously no sane person wants to have to talk officially to a lawyer - maybe not even share a room with one [grin], but this could be as much a step on the way for our greedy friendsa to win this case as to lose it.

  12. iamzippy
    Paris Hilton

    Suck On My Chocolate Salty Ballmer, Judge

    'I wasn't involved. I can't be responsible. I'm just the CEO.'

    WTF? It's a Corporation getting sued here. Hope the DJ stays with this case to the end. She ain't suckin' nobody's balls, and Steve will learn to hate when his balls stick.

    Paris, cuz she prolly prefers it out of the box.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leason learned

    Never let marketing have that much control again. I wounder did this pass legal ???

    Seems to me lark marketing seems to be the slimmest part of any company. They even make legal's skin crawl. Its marketing that says up to xxx speed. Unlimited access(just as long as you don't use the product)

  14. Gareth Jones Silver badge

    @JW Otherworld

    Now lawyers could make anything mean anything if they want to, however purely in terms of the English language you are talking nonsense.

    To say a machine can run Vista does not in any way suggest it can run every version of Vista, it only tells us that it can run A version of Vista. It doesn't even tell us that it will run that version quickly just that it can run it. You cannot infer what isn't said just because you choose to do so.

    I am continually suprised by the verdicts of the US courts and no doubt I will be suprised by this one, but then I wonder why. After all they've had a president for years who murders the English language on a daily basis, why should we expect their lawyers to understand it?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's crunch time for Big Steve as he enters the witness box for the first time

    will he be able to match Bad Billy G's record for getting his ass handed to him in courthouses around the world, or will his failure to emulate his mentor extend so far as to actually get Microsoft cleared of being a bunch of conniving varmints? We wait with bated breath...

  16. Spider

    lying liar caught lying lies

    I so hope this judge gets to see this through and it's not just a sham of a testimony. They knew these machine were nowhere near "capable" and fleeced punter remorselessly. Here's hoping just for once the corporate fraudsters have to pay...

    ...I know it's a dream. But, you just never know!

  17. Martin Silver badge

    @Set Theory is that ''Vista Capable' includes all versions of Vista

    Or the small print that said "VISTA safe mode CAPABLE"

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Did they ever pay their EU fine ? The EU should act quickly to get their cash, this fiasco will yield lots of dollars and there may not be enough for everyone !

    Ballmer should fry - he was so senior and there is a nice little email trail... delegation of work is fine but delegation of responsibility does not work if you're at the top. I'd like to see him get angry with the judge...

    To be generous to Microsoft, Marketing people everywhere are crooks. "HD ready" anyone ? Oh, sorry sir, what you need is Full HD for that...

  19. Shane Kent

    Vista Capable screams Monkey Man

    I don't know about everyone else, but to me the “Vista Capable” screams Dancing Monkey Man. Does it not seem that MS is getting worse and worse the longer Monkey Man runs it?

    Not that I dislike Vista. I run 64bit Vista Ulitmate on a Single Core Athlon 3500 (Venice Core) with 2GB of RAM and over 2TB of storage. Complete with MS MCE IR remote and remote keyboard. It runs like a dream for me. However, I was an OS Mentor for MS Canada Tech Support, so would be pretty embarrasing if I didn't get it to run well.

    With that said, I got burnt on the Vista Capable and the Hauppauge PVR 350. No 64 bit support thus "Vista Capable". Not a great loss, got a PVR 150 and moved the 350 to my girlfriends PC (her PC is 32 bit Vista). This is how I learned to watch out for the "Vista Capable", I thought it said "Vista Compatible". They (whomever) should not have picked a word so close to "Compatible", I truly feel "Vista Capable" was a poor choice of words (but I will stop short of purposely misleading, as I have no proof of that).

  20. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Jail time?

    Will Ballmer get jail time, or a fine? He said *to the courts* that he was not involved with this, when E-Mails showed he knew EXACTLY what was going on, in detail, and advised on how to proceed. Courts tend not to be amused when they catch someone lying... in my book this is perjury.

  21. Pierre

    Not even the home edition

    Frankly, I have seen 'puters bearing the Vista labels despite being clearly unable to run even the most watered-down version of the OS (OS meaning, in this case, "obvious sh1te"). Ian's mom's laptop seems to be a good example too (MS specifies you need 512 MB RAM to run the Home edition). So it's not a matter of which version of Vista. They just tried to create some hype (and to please their OEM distributors) -and failed miserably. Let's take them to the nearest lamp post.

  22. Ron Christian

    re: I for one

    > I can only hope they become collecters items post-lawsuit and I can sell it for a vast sum on a well known international flea-market.

    Sadly, probably not. There are just too many of them.

  23. Fatman
    Dead Vulture

    "Ballmer to get Hot Seat"

    I hope the plaintiff's lawyers do a slow roast of Ballmer in the deposition.

    Consider this visual of "Monkey Boy" skewered and being roasted over the coals.

    That serves the b@$ta@rd right.

    After they are done roasting him, a few (hundred) lashes with a Cat 5 cable would be in order.

    Then as 'Monkey Boy' flies back in the corporate jet, it has a sudden, fatal accident. And Gates breathes a sigh of relief.

  24. Ron Christian

    cart before the horse?

    > JW Otherworld nailed it. They advertised "Vista Capable". Without specifying a specific version of Vista,

    Maybe someone can help me remember -- Back in 2006, did anyone *know* what versions of Vista would be released? Did Microsoft even know? Or did Vista get split out into a dozen or so versions during the last minute panic to ship it, when they started to realize that the full "ultimate" version of the OS needed not-yet-invented technology to run adequately?

  25. Ron Christian

    You've got a point

    > To be generous to Microsoft, Marketing people everywhere are crooks. "HD ready" anyone ? Oh, sorry sir, what you need is Full HD for that...

    That's true. How many people bought high-end "HD ready" graphics cards and then ended up staring at a black screen going "What the hell is HDCP? And why doesn't my 'HD ready' card have it?" It happens all the time, but that doesn't mean we should stop hunting down those involved. Just means the list is long. But we gotta start somewhere.

  26. Kanhef

    @ Gareth Jones

    Hand J. Random a computer with a 'Vista Capable' sticker, and a box of software labeled 'Windows Vista'. They have a reasonable expectation that said computer can run said software. If it does not, they will feel that the labeling is misleading and deceptive. Saying "it can run A version of Vista" comes across as legal weaselese, trying to shirk responsibility on a technicality. In general, a claim is to be construed as broadly as possible, applying to any situation it does not explicitly prohibit.

    If the narrow view of 'Vista Capable' as meaning only that it can run /some/ version of Vista were valid, you could make all sorts of interesting claims. A computer with a 5MHz processor and 1MB of RAM is 'Windows Capable' because it can run Windows 1.0 . Crysis could list as its system requirements just 'a computer with video card and Windows', because there exists /a/ computer matching that description that can run Crysis. See the problem with that interpretation?

  27. Julian

    A joke too far!

    I wonder. Has anyone noticed the resemblance of the Ballmer's image to that of Fester from the 'Adams Family'?

  28. Trent

    MS and the Aero perception

    As Ron said "Maybe someone can help me remember -- Back in 2006, did anyone *know* what versions of Vista would be released?"

    Probably not, but MS did tout and brag up about the wonderful GUI and the aero desktop. If there was one thing that customers perceptions of vista were.. it was AERO. And it was AERO that capable was not capable of.

    But I agree with one thing, that the capable compaign did in fact keep sales up in 06. VIsta had been long coming and sales would have probably dropped off considerably in the last two quarters of 06 had they not done the capable campaign. This was really pretty evil on Intel's and MS part in this. They knew the drawbacks of what they were doing and they knew the customer would have a really poor vista experience. Especially when many of these machines only had 512 megs of ram. That, IMHO, is not vista capable. Have you ever seen a machine run vista on 512MB of ram? Its pathetic. Yet MS and Intel put a bunch of low spec machines with 915 chip sets and a vista capable stickers. Vista, should not install on that kind of machine period. They did it for short term profits and to keep the last two quarters strong in 06. MS really needs to burn on this one. Although the experience did teach them a lesson and they are probably going to do right with seven. They still need to take responsibility for what they did

  29. Telecide

    @ Gareth Jones

    Hows about if you found yourself with testicular cancer and were given treatment described as 'cancer-reducing capable' but, after a precious year of intensive chemo and pill-popping, you found in the smallprint that the course was suitable for breast cancer only? I'm sure you'd kick yourself for being so damn presumptious. Or maybe just laugh your balls off......

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kanhef

    Thing is, if its label vista capable it will be able to run any version ,just not run all teh different possible FEATURES (AERO interface etc) of vista.

    This has been tested by multiple people and you can install different versions (Home Premium etc) on lower machines.

    The intial argument was that AERO was vista , but thats like complaining because you bought a car that was advertised on tv but didn't get the satnav.

    Vista bashing may be fun, but a bit of research may help before you do it!

  31. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    @Gareth Jones

    And Vista Ultimate is A version of Vista.

    It doesn't run.

    Shit you're stupid, man.

  32. radian


    The judge sounds pissed off. Bet she's one of the many people who were forced to go back to XP.

  33. James Comer


    "have a reasonable expectation"

    "In general, a claim is to be construed as broadly as possible"

    "the narrow view"


    The above four words/phrases epitomise where you are going wrong in your thinking, I have to assume you are biased and just looking for a stab at MS.

    The sticker says vista capable, so the only question to be answered is; "can a machine with this sticker run Vista?" If the answer to this question is "No, Vista cannot be run on this machine" then this is clearly misleading/deceitful/fraudulent, but if the answer is anything other than no, then clearly it is capable (to whatever extent).

    It is simple case of the english language and words meaning what they mean rather than what you think/want/interpret them to mean.

  34. Dave

    @Gareth Jones

    I take it that you work for M$ then, Gareth?

    @Trent: 512MB barely counts as XP-capable. Surely that counts for something as well?

  35. Pierre

    How fun is it to watch the fanbuoys squirm?

    Very, very fun!

    Thanks Gareth J and James C and a few shameful ACs for the show!

    As previously said by me and others, some of the machines labeled Vista Capable are not able to run even the Home edition with all the bloat removed. None of them is able to run the high-end Fistas, which is _also_ a problem, but a different one. Try installing Vista on a machine with a 1 Ghz processor, 512 Mo RAM and a 32 Mo graphics memory (which are the official system requirements). Good luck with that. Now remember that some of the "Vista Capable" boxes had not even that.

    Methink most "Vista Capable" stickers actually referred to the chassis and the power supply. Your box is Vista Capable, yessir. You just have to upgrade the processor, the RAM and the graphic card. And possibly the mobo too. After all, the sticker is on the box, not on the innards. It's not misleading at all. The chassis is clearly Vista Capable.

    (not that anyone should want to run^H crawl Vista in the first place, of course. But MS, and Ballmer first, lied repeatedly and should be spanked hard)

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Aw Poor Steve

    Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, well maybe Joseph Stalin.

    PS If there is anybody there who actually bought Vista Ultimate, then I have a Nigerian friend in Lagos that has a once in a lifetime business opportunity for you.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    HP Laserjet printers / @Gareth Jones

    so, my laptop has a spec compliant with the Vista hardware list (all versions, before anyone asks) - but my printer - WTF - won't work with Vista because Vista can't speak Postscript properly. DOH.

    To be a pedant (never .. )

    "To say a machine can run Vista does not in any way suggest it can run every version of Vista, it only tells us that it can run A version of Vista. It doesn't even tell us that it will run that version quickly just that it can run it. You cannot infer what isn't said just because you choose to do so."

    Actually, to say a machine can run Vista means it can run Vista - no qualification, no post-fixed version name, and therefore any such appended name is valid because no qualification is made. You are right to say it does not imply speed or efficiency, but I believe wrong in denying the qualification (although as I said, it could run like a dog and your position would be entirely correct!); on the other hand, this machine runs SO fast running it's Win2k VM (yeah, seriously) that Vista on the most modern hardware is somewhat embarrasing :-) Will try Win95 in a VM next time I get bored to see if it's faster - ran XP under VMware for a quick customer project last month, and it was faster than Vista running on bare metal on my g/f's -same spec - machine.

  38. Steven Ballmer


    What is upsetting in the article is the revelation that my own people are unwilling to fall of the grenade for me! When every last MS employee ius supposed to say, "I know nothing, I see nothing", it turns out that we have whiners internally! Not just low level basement dwellers too, these rats are senior executives! These weaklings emails have been entered into evidence AGAINST MS!

  39. Ascylto
    Gates Horns


    Ballmer looks almost human in that picture.

    It must be the specs!

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