back to article Microsoft's Windows Vista 'Capable' bill could hit $8.5bn

A Microsoft marketing scheme persuading consumers to buy PCs "capable" of running Windows Vista could cost more money than Microsoft made from the program. An expert witness giving evidence in the class-action suit against Microsoft's Windows Vista Capable program has estimated the cost of upgrading so-called "capable" PCs to …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Craig McLean

    No Way!

    "A Microsoft marketing scheme persuading consumers to buy PCs "capable" of running Windows Vista could cost more money than Microsoft made from the program."

    Surely not! That would be like some kind of.... punishment or something.

  3. Sooty

    i still don't understand this

    the minimum spec stated for games has been a long running joke since the windows 95 days, and vista capable machines are certainly capable of running vista, no claims are made to performance though!

    I do wonder whether any of the claimed problems are vista related though, one of my non-tech savvy friends bought a vista laptop that they asked me to have a quick look at before they returned it as completely unuseable( it was 2-3 mins to open a window!!). 5mins uninstalling all the crap dell/hp etc had preinstalled on it, removing some pointless startup programs and services, and it was like a different machine!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $3 - 8.5 billion

    And the fact that the leeches^H^H^H^H^H^Hawyers bringing this action would expect to cream off a big fat percentage of this amount would in no way lead them to inflate the numbers. No sirree Bob!

    Welcome to the United States - the finest justice money can buy.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    In the US?

    If this case was brought in the EU it would have looked quite bad for Microsoft. In the US? Less so ... rip off or no rip off ...

  6. Justin
    Jobs Halo

    Home Basic is Vista, innit?

    Meh, I'll side with Microsoft on this one. Ultimate does not equate itself fully as the "true" Vista, it just allows you to experience the full range of bells & whistles & bugs & segfaults. Or, you can disable all that junk and bemoan the $150 difference spent.

    You don't go to the bookstore and complain that their bargain bin is full off softcovers when a hardbacked book is the "true" version. You got the product, the content looks a little different but it's there.

  7. David Kairns

    Correct This Date - Add One Bit

    Please correct this article as follows:

    Date: Beginning of infinity to present time.

    Added Bit: Mickysoft (in the head) screws customers and "partners."

    Now that we've finished that, Thank You for the article Mr Reg.

  8. Scott

    I don't see what the fuss is about

    I don't see what the fuss is all about. The "Vista Capable" logo never did make any promises that a certified computer would run *every* version of Vista (or every feature of Vista), but just that it would be capable of running Vista (which is true).

  9. Herby

    Vista Incapable

    Of course, they can cut the cost by "upgrading" all those machines to Linux.

  10. JC

    What the fuss is about

    MS advertised Vista features, then did not clearly state that Vista capable systems could not use these features (regardless of what OS happened to come on the system).

    If an automobile manufacturer advertised a car as road-worthy, would you accept that it can only hit 20 MPH on roads, or would you assume it can travel at least at the legal minimum speed limit on an interstate highway?

  11. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Rather than upgrade the hardware...

    ...Microsoft could rebadge Win7 as a Service Pack for Vista (and therefore a free upgrade). Everyone who has tried it seems to agree that it differs from Vista only in being faster and less buggy. You'd probably find that all those Vista Incapable machines are in fact Seven Capable, at which point not only does the case against them collapse, but Win7 doesn't face an uphill struggle for consumer confidence, since it already has an installed base of millions.

    OK MS would lose money on Win7 sales, but only in that fraction of the customer base who upgrade the OS of an existing machine. I suspect that is a tiny fraction.

  12. dervheid
    Thumb Up

    "a windfall to millions."

    As opposed to a windfall for Microstuffed.

    This is long overdue.

    As we say in the land of Jock;

    "Get it RIGHT up them!"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ JC

    "MS advertised Vista features, then did not clearly state that Vista capable systems could not use these features (regardless of what OS happened to come on the system)."

    Err actually they did state that not all systems could use the features, all there adverts said "not avilable on all versions" and made links to not being available on all hardware specs, the underbelly is the same on all versions, same kernal, same driver architecure.

    "If an automobile manufacturer advertised a car as road-worthy, would you accept that it can only hit 20 MPH on roads, or would you assume it can travel at least at the legal minimum speed limit on an interstate highway?"

    Wrong analogy as all versions of vista run the same you jsut get different features, its the same as seeing a car advertise on tv , them putting up the price and putting a nice message saying "not available on all models", then someone complaining because they bought the cheapest car but didn't get a satnav and sunroof.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A case of marketing, not software

    This is more a case about greater honesty in marketing surely ?

    If you pre-ordered a dvd recorder on the basis of the marketing blurb, only to find a number of the buttons disabled, then I think you'd be just a little unhappy.

    It's about time software was treated like any consumer product.

  15. paul
    Gates Horns

    Nothing will happen

    MS has far to much money and far to many lawyers and pay off most internet 'journalists'

    They have misled consumers - no question about that. Vista is vista - regardless of version.

    I see the shills trying to defend MS - "well it can run basic but not ultimate". Or it still runs it just takes an awful long time.

    PS If sony / nintendo did this the xbots would be going nuts.

  16. Scott Mckenzie


    ....they did it because of the expected wait and then rush to get Vista when it came out, now i'd imagine most people who bought a laptop with XP on are really glad as they aren't currently suffering with Vista!

  17. Nick Palmer
    Gates Horns

    JC's quite right

    Vista Home Basic is a gutted version that doesn't include features that were heavily promoted by MS as part of the Vista experience, Aero being only the most obvious. Anyone who equates HB with the other Vista editions is frankly on crack. They didn't label these machines as "Vista Home Basic Capable", they labelled them as "Vista Capable", when these machines are clearly incapable of running the majority of versions of Vista - @Justin, it's not just that they can't run Ultimate, they can't run Home Premium, Business OR Ultimate.

    Consider the following example - one buys a laptop equipped with XP Professional. You need the machine to logon to a domain and other businessy type stuff. It's shipped with XP Pro, but labelled as Vista capable, so you can just upgrade it when Vista comes out, right? Wrong. You cannot upgrade it, because it'll only run VHB, and you would need to have Vista Business running on it to have the same functionality as under XP Pro. Congrats, you got screwed by the Vista Capable logo campaign.

    The campaign was clearly designed to lead people to believe that they could have all the promoted features of Vista when it came out on the machine that they had bought, and it was designed to use that false impression to avoid a slowdown in PC shipments over the year-end/Christmas period. A lot of people were misled and deliberately so. I hope the action succeeds.

    Devil Bill, cause they're ain't no Devil Ballmer.

  18. Thomas

    In agreement with JC + more

    The question is whether customers were deliberately mislead, which I guess is a similar test to the the UK contract law concept of misrepresentation - you can misrepresent by selectively giving half facts if you intend them to be misleading, even if you haven't technically said anything false. For example, if I were a car salesman and someone said "is there much wear on the gearbox?" to which I replied "the car is only a year old and has less than 1,000 miles on the clock" then that would be misrepresentation if I conveniently omitting to mention that I switched the gearbox with one from a twenty-year old car that morning even though technically I'd not have said anything false.

    As JC says, if the court feel that Microsoft said to most customers "these machines can run Vista, and this is what Vista can do" then it doesn't matter that industry insiders with specialist technical knowledge happen to know that Vista is a range of products rather than one.

    To focus on whether what Microsoft said could be construed as true is to completely miss the point and to ignore the actual law.

  19. Mark
    Thumb Down

    re: Home Basic is Vista, innit?

    And Vista Ultimate is Vista, innit. (wnd why is it that YOUR one version of Vista is acceptable, when mine is not?)

    Therefore, given no idea what version of Vista this machine is capable of, it isn't capable of Vista Ultimate = Not capapble of Vista.

    After all, a car that is said to do 189mph but will only do that if there's a 30+mph tail wind would be sued for misrepresentation, even though it COULD (and maybe even DID) do 189mph.

  20. sleepy

    Wasn't it Intel . . .

    Wasn't it Intel that pressured MS into lowering the requirements for Vista, because they still needed to shift another 6 months worth of chips that couldn't meet the spec? Or is that my imagination?

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Obviously a machine with a label saying that it could run a version of Vista will probably be able to run Vista. Who would want to though?

    When the entire IT world are laughing at something and saying it's a load of crap, consumers should probably avoid that product (regardless of those shiny stickers on it looking so purdy).

  22. Simon
    Thumb Down

    This was naughty.

    I was in Japan when Vista was still in beta and I saw Vista Capable stickers on loads of laptops.

    Long after it had shipped I bought a vista capable laptop with windows vista installed, and despite being a fresh install it took about 6 seconds to open My Computer. Vista ran so badly on it I was shocked they were even allowed to install it on it. It was completely unusable.

    I do like Microsoft but they do need a slap on the wrist for this.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And my Laptop is "SQL capable"...

    ..but I sure as hell wouldn't run a datacentre on it.

    Sorry, it runs Vista, therefore it's capable of running it.

    I side with MS on this one.

  24. Sam

    @David Kairns

    " Please correct this article as follows:

    Date: Beginning of infinity to present time."

    Can Infinity have a beginning?

  25. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    @Stu Reeves

    So why is Vista Ultimate not Vista?

    And did your laptop come with a sticker saying "SQL capable"? No.


  26. Mark

    re:Wasn't it Intel . . .

    I think that was Intel telling MS to allow their IGP chipset to be considered "Vista Capable".

    Only part of the problem, since many motherboards don't use it (and non Intel CPU's can't).

  27. Thomas

    @Stu Reeves, sleepy

    Stu: that's an example of using one product at a different scale. The Microsoft allegation concerns misleading advertising. They said simultaneously "this is Vista" and "this machine can run Vista". They did not make it clear to most consumers that the two references to Vista were not to the same set of software.

    It is a matter of measure and degree and whether, on the specific evidence, the judge thinks that Microsoft made statements that were likely to be misleading. It's not about abstract arguments, in the same way that the EU's recent Internet Explorer decision is about the specific effect on the market as it was at the time of bundling that particular browser in the exact manner that Microsoft did so, not on the abstract notion of whether OSs may come with browsers.

    sleepy: if that's true then Microsoft may be able to recover against Intel should they lose this case, or have Intel brought into the current case as a codefendant. The severity of Intel's actions would determine what proportion of any fine Microsoft could recover.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only they kept it simple

    And just produced 1 or two versions ..... why on gods earth would it make sense to make more and more versions of your product with each new release .... oh yeah ... that's because we can confuse people and get more money. Also weren't Intel in on this too ?

    I'd like to see Microsoft pushed to name every version of their Operating System a completely different name. This is a bit more like the Linux world where essentially they run on the same kernel but come with different features. Then people wouldn't be duped into buying the wrong version of an OS because it sounds just like another version and they'd have to apply the right lables to the PC/laptops being sold. I think that would be enough of a fine to Microsoft instead of any monetary gains and it would level the playing field just that little bit more.......

  29. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    MS may have no real problem here.

    If the sticker simply says "Vista capable", well heck even my naff little AcerOne will run Vista, I can't use it, but the sticker isn't lying. Now then, argue over whether that sticker means "usable", are well there's the grey area.

    Yes it will start.

    Yes, I can browse.

    Yes, I can run a copy of WordPad.

    Yes I can listen to an MP3.


    No I can't play FarCry/Crysis/Fallout.

    No I can't play full screen HD vids.

    No I can't run a copy of Access or Excel.

    So do I get my money back or not?

  30. Mage Silver badge


    The point is that Home Basic is an especially cut down version compared to ANY other Vista. No DX10

    The machines in question can only run the subset in Basic. If you put any higher version on you don't get Aero etc.

    Min Spec PCs for Win95, 98, NT4.0, Win2K and XP did run any version of the OS. Though maybe in some cases S L O W L E Y and lacking ability to open many programs at once.

  31. Mark
    IT Angle


    "No I can't play FarCry/Crysis/Fallout."

    It doesn't say "Far Cry capable. In fact, if you look at the minimum specs on the back of the box, you'll find your AcerOne is below that.

    "No I can't play full screen HD vids."

    It doesn't say "HD video ready". If you buy a software decoder, you'll find the minimum specs listed in the purchase and you'll find your AcerOne is below that.

    "No I can't run a copy of Access or Excel."

    It doesn't say "Access/Excell ready". IYou'll find the minimum specs listed on the back of the box and you'll find your AcerOne is below that.

    "So do I get my money back or not?"


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mark

    Simple fact is , his acer one DOES RUN VISTA, it might not be the version you ASSUMED you were going to get but it runs it.

    If this was a company other than ms most of you lot would be saying "yeah its ok the users are stupid", the only reason you are against ms is because.. you are against ms.

    The only thing wrong here is marketing bs that every other company does , inlcuding the car companyies for showing you advert with cars with satnavs but only putting the satnavs on more expensives cars!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't the important part the "reasonable person" bit?

    IANAL, but IIRC most contracts / adverts where something is not explicitly stated are held by a court to mean whatever a reasonable, knowledgeable person would believe it to mean.

    "knowledgeable" here refers more to someone who knows what a computer is than an IT professional, such as a typical non-Mac owning user.

    So the question would be whether a normal computer user would consider it reasonable to advertise Vista with bells and whistles and then identify Vista capable as being without the bells and whistles.

  34. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    @AC 13:55

    Nope, it doesn't.

    I get Vista put it on and it won't run.

    (The box says "Vista Ultimate").

  35. Mark
    IT Angle

    "The reasonable person"

    Wasn't it Jim Allchin, MS VP or something that bought a laptop "Vista Capable" with Vista and ended up with an expensive email machine?

    If a high level employee of a software/OS company doesn't know the difference, what chance does anyone else have?

    Worse, it's the same company that wrote the bloody OS!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Vista Ultimate will in fact install and run on that box - but features such as Aero will be disabled.

    And you can install Vista Business on a Vista Capable machine, and log it into a Domain. You won't get Aero, though.

    Some of you guys are extremely willing to express falsehoods as facts. The funny thing is that that makes you guilty of doing exactly what makes you hate Microsoft.

    Microsoft had 2 logos - Vista Ready and Vista Capable. They made plenty of information available about the difference between the 2. If anyone was misled, it was by the retailers, not by Microsoft.

  37. Charlieman

    What does/did Aero mean?

    MS partially fouled this one up by using the term Aero too loosely in their marketing. When Vista was in beta, Aero clearly meant the windowing scheme, the layout of the Start panel, search in window functionality etc -- all of which work in 2D mode. Aero Glass (the full Vista experience) adds the 3D effects and requires a different video driver model capable of DX10. MS handily provided sample images that demonstrated overlapping desktop windows: with Aero Glass, the overlapping area was semi transparent, and with Aero it was "flat" as in XP. When Vista was released, it was clear that Aero =/= Aero Glass.

    Vista Capable meant that a PC could run Vista. Most beta testers used virtual machines or machine room junk for their evaluation, experiencing the Aero experience. When they wanted to show it off, they installed Vista on a PC with a meaty graphics card so that Aero Glass was enabled. But even the machine room junk was "Vista capable" -- I ran Office 2007, IE7 and (heavens forbid) SMS client with Vista Enterprise in an AD environment on an Intel 845 board.

    I have little sympathy with the whingers who claim that Vista runs slowly on the PC that they bought last week. If the OS does not work, blame the PC manufacturer. I've just booted Vista SP1 into a virtual machine on a three year old PC that predates the Vista launch: i'd be happy to use that VM as my desktop system.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 19:17

    But is Vista without Aero Glass truly Vista?

    All the adverts I saw for Vista were with Aero Glass fully working and really as a main selling point.

    Any court case will depend on whether a judge / jury think that Aero Glass is a material part of the reason people would buy Vista or a nice to have add-on if your hardware will support it.

    I followed the whole Vista release thing fairly well, I knew someone would want support for it and I still couldn't tell you the difference between Vista capable and Vista ready.

    And to be perfectly honest and subjective (I work almost exclusively with MS products on the server and desktop - anyone reading my previous posts will know I view Macs as pointless toys for inbred Welsh people and Linux as a failed attempt by bearded virgins to stick it to da man) there is no real world semantic difference between capable and ready.

    I am well aware that ready implies will work now and capable implies will work with some additional "things" but no-one when buying a laptop for example would believe that their lappy is vista capable as long as they shell out a load more money on a new laptop to run their copy of Vista fully.

    And finally (for now) in the UK at least we have a clause called "fit for purpose" in the various sales of goods acts which state quite clearly that anything you buy must be fit for purpose of which it is sold, with purpose being anything specified by the manufacturer / retailer or should be believed to be so by any reasonable, knowledgeable person.

    So, If I buy a crap computer with Vista Ultimate the retailer has a duty to tell me Vista will not work properly. If Vista Ultimate is pre-installed then I would assume it is the lappy manufacturer's responsibility (or at least the retailer would have a case for compensation against the manufacturer) to clearly state what will not work. This is, as many have pointed out, not directly Microsoft's torte, however if MS applied pressure or specified "ambitious" criteria for being able to run Vista then there will potentially be a line of redress for those selling / manufacturing goods not fit for purpose.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Some people here are looking at this with hindsight (vista is vista is vista etc).

    At the time that the "Vista Capable" stickered laptops were being punted, all the MS marketing was centred around Aero, so that's what people would have expected, only later did the concept of Vista Basic come about (not a coincidence, methinks).

    When these laptops were being offered to Joe public, all he knew about were the glassy screenshots that were being shopped around, that WAS Vista as far as people were concerned.

    Frankly, no-one who's ever seen Ballmer's "I love this Company" little sketch should be surprised at this behaviour. Reality /= MS.

  40. Mark

    "but features such as Aero will be disabled"

    As others have said, that's not Vista then. Vista was shown with all those lovely graphical bells and whistles.

    Apart from Aero, what did Vista give?

    a) It's now my fault I got infected because UAC *asked* and I said yes

    b) DRM protected path means my sound is run on the CPU now

    c) I have a worse EULA to agree to

    d) No VMing

    e) A SHITLOAD more expensive. £399 isn't it for Vista Ultimate? cf £99 for XP, or £199 for XP professional

    f) Many things won't work any more because the driver model changed

    Pro: I get to keep on the upgrade path.


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