back to article Vista to XP 'downgrade' lawsuit revised

A US woman who is suing Microsoft for allegedly charging her extra to downgrade from Windows Vista to XP had the lawsuit revised late last week. Emma Alvarado of Los Angeles, California amended her complaint at the Seattle federal court last Thursday. She repeated her charges, first filed on 11 February, in which Alvarado …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    I know it's dodgy marketing language, but how are MS getting away with calling a "change" from Vista to XP a "downgrade"?

    You end up with a faster, more stable system that's more likely to support your hardware and software, as well as have more functionality (example? oh I dunno, like being able to play CDs you own without crippling the network or the audio, and not require the output of every windfarm in a 30 mile radius just to run). Seems like an upgrade to me. I'd agree to "a change", but "downgrade" is a flat out lie. Where's the trading standards office?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Title

    Not sure about US law, but in English law Microsoft's statement falls a long way short of a complete defence. If MS were responsible for the plaintiff having to cough 130 bucks then the plaintiff is entitled to a settlement, whether or not MS profitted from the situation. In which case I don't think the suggestion that MS profitted by

    If you sue for damages because somebody backed into your car in the car park you do not have to prove that they profitted from the bump, just that you lost out and that the other driver was responsible for your losses.

    I suspect that MS would argue that there was actually no need for the user to be charged for the downgrade and that the dealer should have carried out the work for free. This may not be enough, for this defence to hold water MS would have to show that the dealer acted unfairly in charging for the downgrade. If the dealer had to charge for labour or media which could not be recouped from MS then the charges were fair from the dealer's POV. To use the motoring analogy, if the driver who bumped your car swerved to avoid a dangerous driver then the dangerous driver would be responsible for your damages. I this case MS are the dangerous driver.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Dont you mean upgrade to XP?

  4. Anonymous Coward


    If you go to a shop, give your pc to them for a few hours for them to install XP plus drivers etc. Its going to cost.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did they?

    "Alvarado, who is seeking class action status in the lawsuit, claimed that Microsoft adjusted its rules to “inflate its sales figures for Vista"."

    Haven't downgrade rights always existed, and haven't they always only been available with "business" editions of Windows?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    US law?

    The US doesn't HAVE consumer protection laws. Those pieces of fluff that are paraded as "consumer protection" laws seem to be written by the very companies that they are supposed to be protecting the consumer from. Their entire country is run by corporations, for corporations and ghods help you if you try to fight one of them. Microsoft is the very proof of this. We just need to look at how lovey-dovey their government and Microsoft have acted in officially sanctioning the company, but in fact doing absolutely nothing to stop Microsoft's abusive practices.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Downgrade rights

    @Anonymous Coward

    Yes, downgrade rights have always existed and always will. It allows companies to buy additional licenses for whatever Microsoft are punting without having to upgrade for upgrades sake. It is only applicable to eOpen etc and full retail products, not that OEM version lumped on that £299 PC that this yank bought from Wal Mart or wherever.

    That is the key though - should the OEM versions have downgrade rights? Obviously not, that's why it is pre-installed / "contact your hardware vendor for support" / no original media. Who exactly does she expect to install XP for her should she be allowed to downgrade? Microsoft (for free) no doubt.

    If she is that desperate to install XP then perhaps she should do as the licensing requirements state and buy a permitted product. Either that or just get on with it - she probably only uses the things a couple of times a week to see what bandwagon she can jump on for the purposes of personal gain or feeling self important. In that case perhaps she should buy a Mac.

  8. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Does she have a case? Maybe.

    The points against the case:

    1) Microsoft isn't charging a downgrade fee. The retailer (Dell etc.) are.

    2) Microsoft has, as AC says, always had downgrade rights, only with the business version. In other words, it could be argued this fee is "not Microsoft's fault."

    The points for the case:

    1) Vista is a real piece of shit, and Microsoft has tried as hard as possible to remove all availability of XP despite market demand. (Don't believe me? Microsoft now claims the XP COA and CD are tied together -- that is, if you get a machine with XP COA, but the CD is missing, they now claim that COA is void.) They only sell XP at all now for netbooks so Linux wouldn't completely take over the market.

    2) Microsoft IS making buying Vista Business the only way to get XP. This *does* artificially inflate Vista sales. It makes getting XP Home for a new system impossible.

    3) While allowing downgrade rights, Microsoft is doing nothing to supply media to make this downgrade actually possible, letting Dell etc. charge whatever they want for media.

    4) As a convicted monopolist, Microsoft simply has different obligations than a normal company.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Stupid user more like.

    MS has always done the downgrade on the "business" OS. They did it with XP Pro with downgrades to 2000, and 2000 down to NT4. So the tying of Vista Business with a downgrade only to XP Pro is well, exactly what they've always done.

    From what it seems in this it comes under the stupid user classification. Muppet has probably gone out and bought some fluffy crapola machine because its oh so glitzy and comes with Vista Home Premium on it. Then whined afterwards she wanted XP instead but found that because the store no doubt told her to sod off as she was a complete idiot. The only option was to use the Anytime upgrade (the $130 I am guessing) up to Ultimate to claim the free downgrade. When anyone with even half a braincell would of either bought a machine right off with Vista Business and an XP downgrade disk, or one like the HP's shipping with XP on them. Or even just gone an bought a oem XP disk which would of been a damn wallet load cheaper.

    Hate to say it, but MS can't be blamed for the utter stupidity of users, just as much as Apple can't be for the number they have as well. She knew exactly what she was buying when she bought it. She made the choice! and she's a complete bloody muppet!

    p.s. come on el Reg, can we have a muppet icon?

  10. the spectacularly refined chap

    Versions are not comparable

    I'm no friend of MS but in this instance it seems the claimant is complaining about not getting something for nothing. You start out with the bottom-of-the-range version of Vista - Basic, and then complain you have to pay to upgrade to a professional version. If you were switching from Vista Basic to XP Home you would have a valid grievance, but Basic -> Professional is an upgrade and I don't see how you can demand that it should be free.

  11. Doug Glass

    @Anonymous Coward

    "To use the motoring analogy, if the driver who bumped your car swerved to avoid a dangerous driver then the dangerous driver would be responsible for your damages. I this case MS are the dangerous driver."

    Not in the USofA, you have to prove culpability and intent of the other driver. You, as the driver, are responsible for the operation of your automobile. The imagined, unproven, actions of others do not relieve you of that responsibility or absolve you if you take deadly action.

    <end of thread>

  12. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    M$ lemmings - glug gluggety glug

    First you gotta pay for an OS you don't want. Then you have to pay extra for an end-of-life OS you do want. On top of which M$ is cheerfully bundling this end-of-life OS with netbooks as if butter wouldn't melt in its gory jaws.

    Surely this legacy juggernaut crap can't carry on for ever with the Sheriff of Nottingham holding the reins and seeing just how many true believers it can crush under the weight of this murderous taxation. Or are all M$ fans just terminal (heh) lemmings? Everyone else is leaping over this cliff, so why shouldn't I? Another plummet, another splish. Glug, glug, glug.

    (Paris cos I'd rather be under her than that bloody M$ juggernaut :-)

  13. Chris Beach

    MS aren't at fault

    If the pre built pc (which I'm assuming it must be) came with vista, then yes, she was 'forced' to buy a vista license, in the weakest she's not forced to buy anything.

    If the reseller was charging more for XP, then she might have a case if they can't justify the costs, but only against the reseller.

    MS and Vista don't stop you installing any OS over the just need a valid license for the OS some are free, some aren't.

    Unfortunately for her MS have decided not to sell an old product, so what? Lots of companies do it, nothing wrong with it, can't really fault MS here either.

    So unless she has proof that MS force the reseller to charge more for the XP license, she's got no case.

  14. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Re: ID10T

    The issue is not that she took a working Vista machine in to be downgraded to XP. It is a new machine which, in most cases, as an existing drive or sysprep image available.

    The issue now, and I still think the lawsuit is missing the mark though getting much closer, is that Microsoft enabled and enforced an environment in which a customer would be required to pay for a Windows XP installation on a computer with a Vista license.

    Her points are pretty clear here. No Home Edition qualifies for the downgrade. Instead, only the more expensive Business Editions (and Ultimate, IIRC) may be downgraded, and then only to XP Professional.

    Now, I am not sure how relevant the bit about only being able to downgrade to XP Professional really is. None the less, Microsoft has constructed an environment in which the average home consumer must shell out more money to get Windows XP.

    As for the Windows XP downgrade fees being charged by OEMs? That seems to be pretty much up to the OEM. I have brokered the purchase of numerous Dells for which the customer was not charged for the Windows XP installation. Which in and of itself is mostly irrelevant since the first thing I do when I get a new Dell workstation or server is wipe and reload the operating system and drivers.

    But then, we do not know what is going on behind the scenes between OEMs and Microsoft, much as we did not know about the goings on in the past. So, there may be something there fueled by the desire for Microsoft to show that Vista was never a flop, that everybody loves it, and that it is so much better than Windows XP. Inflate the sales figures for Vista by forcing OEMs to only sell Vista licenses, and charge a hidden tax for allowing an XP installation? Why, we would never!

    Oh, but get this. How much do they care about the Windows XP and Vista relationship? If a system builder downgrades to XP, he or she can call and activate ANY Windows XP license, even if already activated, just by saying that downgrade rights are being exercised.

    Paris, first thing to do with her is wipe and reload.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Right THAT'S IT...I'm suing BMW

    You see they wanted damn near £30k for a new car...but I only wanted to pay for a 5 year old model, which I think is better because that's what everyone says, AND the cheeky tossers charged me EXTRA just to have the second car, even though I wont use it...The cheek of it all...It's almost as if the suppliers of the car chose only to stock the new items...I mean honestly, do they REALLY think that we live in some sort of capitalist society?

  16. Shane McCarrick

    Its not just the 'downgrade' that you have to pay for

    Remember Dell's brief dalliance with Ubuntu?

    You know you still had to shell out for an OEM copy of Windows- to satisfy Dell's contract with MS.......

    And what about all those licences that those of us in our 30s or 40s have gotten with every single computer we've bought over the last 15-20 years? I must have at least 30- and I actually have to this day 32 OEM Windows books on my bookcase along with certificates of authenticity.

    MS is a monopoly player and does abuse its market position- period.

  17. Robert Moore
    Gates Horns

    I went for the *real* upgrade

    Bought myself a MacBook Pro.

    I will be eternally grateful to M$ for producing Vista, which is so horrible that it finally convinced me to get off my lazy arse and buy the real Unix (TM) machine I have been wanting for so long.

  18. jason


    Well i purchaced a single laptop for my company with Vista on it and i cant find any of my employees that wish to use this new OS. so i employed someone to build lower cost and faster Xp desktops and it has saved me tons of cash and IT overhead. With no loss of productivity on OS retraining. The IT person i have employed says that retraining for a new OS is difficult and going to happen anyway and has sujested we turn to a lunix OS for are next OS retraining for a more secure and lower cost deployment.

  19. kain preacher


    On thier web site they are charging $130 to have XP put on a laptop. How is that MS fault .

  20. Kenny Swan
    Thumb Down

    What's the problem?

    She wanted software that wasn't included with her system. Regardless of which one is better than the other, she needed additional software and was charged for it. I'm actually going to side with Microsoft on this one.

  21. Ben


    I find this slightly bizarre

    What other company allows you to buy one version of the software and 'downgrade' for free? isn't it usually if you want that version, you fork out for in IN FULL

    Does Apple allow free downgrades through OS X? In fact can you even officially buy older versions once the new one comes out?

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Scott Swarthout
    Thumb Down

    @AC 17:10

    "Downgrade rights" have not ever really been a problem. It was not until Vista that one was unable to purchase an older version of the OS. Win 98 was on the shelves even after Win ME (and a good thing too)

    it wasn't until Vista that you could not buy a prebuilt machine with anything other than the latest WinOS.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It depends who is imposing the charges

    If Microsucks is requiring the extra charges for a downgrade license, then they could lose this suit in the UK. If the PC supplier is imposing the fee and Microsucks is NOT charging them the additional license fee, this woman may lose the case because the PC company can charge for configuration changes. If the PC supplier is collecting revenue by falsely stating that Microsucks requires an extra licensing fee, then they could be nailed for fraud.

    In America however, he who has the gold makes the rules of law so don't expect Microsucks to pay a dime in this type of case. Microsucks can buy all the justice they desire in America, unlike in the EU.

  25. John

    Ahhh ha....


    “Microsoft does not charge or receive any additional royalty if a customer exercises those [downgrade from Vista to XP] rights. Some customers may choose or need to obtain media or installation services from third parties to install the downgrade version."


    Thats where the discrepancy is coming from, MS claim that it will cost nothing except for any install discs that the customer might need to buy. Now I haven't installed Windows for a long time due to being one of those Linux fanboi's , but doesn't the upgrade need a full retail or equivalent disk to install with, it asks for it when you start the upgrade?.... how many PC manufacturers now supply a full disk with their PC, pretty much none I believe (at least of the big manufacturers unless it changed in the last few years), all prefering so called recovery disks/partitions.

    Hence customer suddenly needs to buy the disks to partake of the 'free' downgrade, Microsoft of course are fully aware of this and no doubt were at the time of the offer, I suspect it would have been felt to be an obstacle that would help reduce the numbers making use of the downgrade offer. After, the more steps you put in the way the more likely people won't bother.

    Someone can politely correct me if I am wrong on this.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Pointless Analogy Time.....

    OK, lets say you go buy a car, and it has a particular package of luxury items (say, leather interior, air conditioning, furry dice). You decide you don't want the package, so you take the car back to the dealers. Do the dealers say 'of course sir, we'll take them off and trade for the normal stuff free of charge'?

    No, because these trade items are different items, having there own intrinsic value. If nothing else, the labour involved has a cost. If this woman didn't want Vista, she shouldn't have bought a computer with Vista. And before the bleating about lack of choice, that's rubbish. She could go to any one of a raft of suppliers and got Linux (or in some cases XP) or even buy an Apple (Apple don't ship Macs with OS 9 anymore...).

    At the end of the day, XP is almost gone (barring netbooks), and whether we like it or not, if you want a Windows PC it comes with Vista, things move on. After all, you don't buy a new car and expect a hand-crank at the front and solid tyres.

    -- The luxury pack analogy was quite good - if you rip out air con and a load of other fluff, your car runs quicker and more efficiently. A bit like replacing Vista with XP. Good, eh?

  27. DZ-Jay

    Re: Did they?

    >> "Haven't downgrade rights always existed, and haven't they always only been available with "business" editions of Windows?"

    Perhaps. But the point of the lawsuit is that Microsoft is using it's dominant market position to force people to purchase Vista, whether they want or plan to use it, or not. If you are looking to buy a new computer, you cannot purchase it with Windows XP installed -- Microsoft won't allow it because of "licensing policies"; you can only purchase it with Windows Vista.

    However, nobody seems to want Vista; and Microsoft, instead of bowing down to market and consumer pressure and demand for Windows XP (which is what an organization without monopoly-ish powers would have to do), is making those who want Windows XP pay a so-called "downgrade" license for it--on top of the price of the pre-installed Vista. In essence purchasing both.

    The fact that the user has only the choice of either swallowing an unwanted Windows Vista, or paying an additional fee for getting the product they want--while still paying for Vista--is the crux of the suit. I'm sure that many people would be happier if they could abdicate their pre-installed copy of Vista, subtract its price from the cost of the computer and use this as a credit towards a Windows XP license. After, those who are asking for XP do not want Vista at all, much less rammed down their throats.

    Of course, offering the choice of Vista or XP is not an option for Microsoft, because that would mean revealing the emperor's new clothes: that there is no demand for the newer operating system, even when compared against a previous version from almost eight years ago.


  28. Unlimited

    RE: What's the problem? RE: Sell what they like?

    Sure, if they hadn't prohibited the PC vendors from selling machines with XP on it.

    Then you could choose to buy XP or choose to buy Vista.

    What they did was force everyone to sell ( and buy ) a broken OS, and then force those who wouldn't put up with the broken OS to pay again to buy one that does work.

    See what they did there? If you want a new PC with a working windows OS, they've effectively made you pay for 2 OS, not one. See the scam?

    After 6 months of actually trying Vista ( and not just listening to the MS bashers ), I've now installed Ubuntu, instead of paying MS for 2 operating systems when I only need one.

  29. Dale Morgan

    Why are people siding with Microsoft?

    I don't understand, Microsoft are forcing retailers to ship new PC's with Vista, if you want a stable operating system then you need to pay extra for XP. this isn't right.

    They should be offering both operating systems otherwise you can't get a stable PC without paying extra,

    Someone tried comparing this with car sales, its was a rubbish analogy but maybe this would help clarify the court case.

    BMW are the only car manufactuer in the world, the newest BMW is on offer for £30k but it breaks down every 50 miles and you can't fill up the tank at most petrol stations, if you want the engine from the earlier model that runs fine and you can fill it up anywhere you got to pay £50k.

    Remember now you've got no choice but to use BMW but their abusing their monopoly to make extra cash by selling a faulty engine in a new car and then charging people to get the car "fixed"

  30. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns

    The MS Monopoly has to be broken

    I just bought a small Atom based Compaq (How do you make your keyboards so crappy HP?

    I want to use it as a home server running linux but there is no way I can purchase the device without also purchasing a fricking MS OS.

    I have yet to decide to agree to the two EULA's (one for MS, one for HP) on the thing as I'm unsure what I am going to do now.

    Choice 1: Attempt to run the OS refund obstacle course. The MS EULA clearly states that if I don't agree to the MS T&Cs then I should return "the product" to the place of purchase for a refund. This is fine. On the other hand, the seperate HP EULA states that if I don't agree to the HP T&Cs then I should return the hardware and software. Legally, it would be possible to agree to the HP EULA but disagree with the MS EULA and still be in the position that is possible to return Windows without returning the hardware but I'm not sure whether I can really be bothered.

    Choice 2: Return the product within the 2 week grace period that is stated within the EULA and let the store deal with having a second hand, partly used product placed back into their inventory. In fact, the more I think of it the more I think that we should start a grassroots campaign to destroy the MS monopoly by continually buying PC's and then returning them within the two week grace period. If enough people do this enough times the pressure will flow upwards from the retailers to the OEMs and right up to Microshaft.

    Choice 3: Suck it up and do nothing.

  31. Maty

    to get an XP box

    Go to your local PC shop - I mean a real one, owned by an enthusiast, not a superstore staffed by college dropouts - and ask for a custom machine. By getting only the bits you want you save money, and also qualify for an OEM version of XP pro.

    I like Vista, except the networking and DRM are so secure that you can't use a local network or media. And I like Linux except that my favourite games aren't supported. That leaves XP.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS fault. Flat and simple.

    Actually the customer should have been paid for the dowgrade. Follow me closely:

    -Not gonna use Vista, that was forced on her. She should thus be reimbursed of the price of the Vista license (that's how MS dodged the monopoly lawsuits. They MUST ABSOLUTELY reimburse. Even if they lie to you when you ask, and push the retailers to lie, they have the legal obligation to reimburse you)

    -Now she virtually has a "blank" system, she chooses to buy XP (I know, it's not available for retail anymore, but she's dealing directly with the OEM there). She thus pays for a XP license. Which happens to be, like, 3 times cheaper than the Vista licence.

    But she got charged her for the upgrade instead. Don't give me the "it's the retailer" crap, the retailers only do what MS tells them to do. The biggest ones tried to rebel against Vista once, we all know how it ended.

    And what's the bet she's counted as a Vista user AND an XP user now? Way to artificially inflate the sales numbers MS!

    I say, the sooner Redmond's fave money machine goes down the drain the better.

  33. Lager And Crisps
    Jobs Horns


    Lots of people saying they would stand with Microsoft on this issue, no surprise there then. The most courageous of that number do not go by the name of "Anonymous Coward", a revelation in itself.

    I would suspect that Microsoft bought of the opposition lawyers and witnesses long before most of this became public knowledge. The outcome will be a resounding victory for Microsoft, and those that support Microsoft will be relieved. And I know what you will say, I am wearing my tin-foil hat.

    Tell me, if you sold Anti-Malware software that depended on the Microsoft monopoly, would you want an almost immune OS (Linux,*BSD) becoming the market leader?

    Microsoft will buy, buy , buy and then buy some more. Billions pay for justice, Microsoft justice.

    Ballmer will spend billions to suppress Linux, billions you understand?

    I think at the end of the day Linux will prevail where Microsoft can not purchase the entire political system of a country for it's own ends. But which 3rd and 2nd world nation does not like money?

  34. P. Lee
    Gates Horns

    re: Right THAT'S IT...I'm suing BMW

    Microsoft is a monopoly - that means (at least it should mean) that it loses its right to sell its products in any way it pleases. This isn't BMW's position.

    All software for which the purchaser is eligible needs to shipped with license keys and media. I've no objection to the retailer installing the latest version of Windows, but if there is a free Windows downgrade option, the media and license key should be supplied in the box at MS's expense. This is a Windows license for which MS is being paid, right?

    This "cheaper OEM version of Windows" deceitfulness needs to stop. There is no good reason to make Windows cheaper because stuff has been added to it. The lack of media / up/downgrade options is injurious to the consumer. If MS wants to make Windows available more cheaply to OEMs that's fine, but that needs to be irrelevant to the user. If OEMs want to slipstream drivers into installation media and/or pre-install that's fine too, but as far as dealings between MS and the customer are concerned, it should be the same as a retail windows license. The tie between a Windows license and hardware manufacturer needs to be broken.

    Note that this is not the same as demanding Apple license OSX to all-comers. If Apple licensed OSX to Dell and HP, OSX licenses should not be tied to one or the other. Admittedly, this probably benefits the hardware vendor more than MS, but the "double purchasing" this could lead to is an abuse of market power.

    MS should not be allowed to form contracts which exclude rival products or provide financial incentives to exclude rival products. Pricing Windows according to quantity sold is fine. Increasing costs or reducing "co-marketing funds" because you chuck a RedHat CD into the box is not. This is tricky to police and may only be worthwhile to police in a "best guess" manner.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How Much?

    Ok folks, an american is sueing a large corporation, the very first question to ask here is "How much is she sueing them for?".

    The costs she incurred may only be a few hundred bucks, but who wants to bet she's sueing them for millions?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about this, in the UK

    Interesting comments on here. Had this been in the UK, I wonder if the sale of goods acts could be applied?

    Buying a computer with an operating system which isn't fit for purpose ( you'd have to identify what the purpose was) and there's no alternative so she couldn't have bought the PC with another O/S on, and the operating system was advertised, promoted by Microsoft as enabling the computer to do what she needed it to do. Clearly, if the operating system is broken, so full of bugs that it just doesn't work properly in key aspects of functionality she needs to use, then it's akin to buying a broken car...must be fixed, replaced at the sellers/manufacturers expense.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Beech

    I disagree with you. I can't comment on the specifics of US legislation but the way I see it is this:

    If she's purchased a product which is full of bugs, then arguable it is defective. If it is sufficiently defective that it impedes her ability to do what she needs it to do ( the product should do something which doesn't work), then the item is clearly defective and sold in a defective state by her retailer and or Microsoft.

    She should not have to pay to have a defective product fixed. I think the case is as simple as this.

  38. Jeff

    While we are speaking of cars...

    The way I see it... say you wish to buy a car with a 4 cylinder engine. But in order to do so, the carmaker forces you to purchase the V6 model, and then buy the 4 cylinder engine, and pay to have it swapped over.

    So you end up paying for 2 engines, but can only use one of them. People would be outraged if this happened, but somehow the software companies ensure that normal rules of ownership do not apply to them.

  39. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    I don't understand

    It is an UPGRADE so you should pay.. Having XP Pro on my Desktop and Vista Ultimate on my laptop I can definitely say Vista is utte crap

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always wanted an original Model-T Ford

    Monopoly or not, MS have stopped "selling" XP for quite some time. Regardless of the opinions regarding Vista, it is the current OS for sale. the fact they offer downgrade rights at all is primarily for business where multi-level OS versions are complicated to manage. If you are a home user who doesn't want Vista, then go and buy a machine with XP, buy a second hand machine with XP, or go put a different OS on it.

    If I go to Ford and say I don't want a new model Ford coz I want a Model-T, they will tell me they stopped selling them a while ago. I can't go and sue them because thay won't sell me something they don't make or support anymore. If I want a Model-T now, I have to go find someone other than Ford who has one to sell, or consider buying a different brand of car altogether.

    MS may be a monopoly in most respects, but that doesn't mean they are required to support every old OS for as long as you might like them to. If Vista is so crap you don't want it, then go try Linux or OSX instead.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS and this customer

    deserve each other.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Goat Jam

    Sound analysis. Sadly, and I'm sure legions of marketing droids have worked on this, option 3 will probably be the majority choice. However MSFT and it's ilk shouldn't make the mistake of thinking people don't care; cf Ratners the jeweller. There may be what the young people call a 'tipping point'.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From an OEM

    I work in a small OEM in America that produces laptops, workstations and servers. Months before the OEM Vista Business product shipped, a Free “upgrade” coupon was included with each Copy of Windows XP SP2 Professional, offering a customer (after purchase) a 3 month upgrade window.

    With all of the “bad press” of Vista “pre SP1” and believe me --Lack of driver support etc--many customers demanded ( and still do) XP. As the first demise of XP was imminent our suppliers enlightened us that Redmond will “allow” an XP2 downgrade ONLY from the OEM Vista Business Product. Note: The key code will allow you to “upgrade to vista” in a future date.

    Our cost is approx $140.00 US for Vista business / with DVD and $150.00 US for XP / with CD The catch: You Must already OWN a copy of OEM XP2 to downgrade – Have the physical media on hand-- We don’t charge extra to load XP, I believe it becomes a “service” and the service minded will profit.

  44. Mark


    Maybe if they allowed people to but the hardware sans OS then either allow you to put your own on there or have a choice of Vista/XP at appropriate cost then they'd have no case to answer. Must-have windows installs seem borderline legal to me.

    Are they saying that there is a $130 cost for returning your Vista license (getting refunded) and then buying an XP license? That would make the XP license pretty pricey.

    I don't think it's clear-cut either way on this one.

  45. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    @spectularly refined chap....

    specatularly refined chap, she's not trying to get something for nothing.. you say

    "If you were switching from Vista Basic to XP Home you would have a valid grievance."

    This is one of her complaints. She WAS perfectly happy getting XP Home. Vista Basic DOES NOT GIVE downgrade rights. So she had to pay extra for an unwanted upgrade to Vista Premium, in order to downgrade to a copy of XP Pro that is overkill compared to what she really was looking for (and then pay even more for the actual XP Pro install.). There's no legal way to get XP Home onto a new computer; it's unlikely to find a legal copy anywhere since it's been off the market for so long.

    Now, personally, I'd buy a box with no Microsoft products whatsoever, preferably with Ubuntu instead. But people should not have to jump through these hoops if they really want to still run XP for some reason.

  46. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Could be worse

    Imagine if you press the "no Internet Explorer" and "no Microsoft media player" in Windows 7 but do not get an automatic refund for software you never wanted.

    It is time new computers were shipped only with free software - that can be a trial version of Microsoft's latest if OEMS want. Then any customer who wants to throw their money down the toilet can pay Microsoft for whatever licenses are available and the rest of us do not have to fund a convicted monopoly abuser when we want to use better software.

  47. Martin Usher

    The car analogy's missing something....

    Its based on the idea that the spiffy new car you've just bought actually worked. As it is you can't get the thing out of second gear (its still got a manual transmission, of course). So you want to trade it in for something that actually worked.

    In California the car thing would invoke what's called the "Lemon Law". By all accounts (and personal experience) Vista is a lemon -- its de facto unusable -- so the consumer's entitled to a refund.

    The Penguin actually works well, and reliably too. Vista pushed me over the edge -- I can't stand Windows any more, its too slow, clunky and -- yes -- unreliable.

  48. Martin Nicholls

    Analogy & Metaphore

    This whole story is pretty silly and there's a lot of analogies flying about in the comments, just thought it might be sensible to point out that:

    "If you sue for damages because somebody backed into your car in the car park you do not have to prove that they profitted from the bump, just that you lost out and that the other driver was responsible for your losses."

    Is actually incorrect. This is like if you bought a new car, decided you didn't like it then lets say, Ford, were kind enough to offer you an older model for free, as long as you pay the delivery charges. The extra 130 is like you then decide you don't like driving so get somebody to drive you around - then sue Ford for damages saying your driver should be provided for free because you didn't like the newer model.

    Because it's oh-so-complex technology they're trying to obfuscate it, but this is what is happening. Then they're trying to bury it in a class action because they know they'll loose and be liable for costs.

    Come on people, hate Microsoft and Vista or not, I think we can all agree this is a pretty stupid lawsuit. The plaintiff should just be grateful Microsoft didn't tell them where to go and if they don't like it, download a Linux distro.

  49. David Lawton

    Missing the point....

    Most of you seem to be missing the point , there is no legal downgrade path (Using downgrade rights) from Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium (which most home users will have) to Windows XP Home Edition.

    Why have Microsoft made it so akward? Why can a home user not convert a Vista Home licence to XP Home licence like a business user can phone up Microsoft Activation and convert an Vista Business code into a XP Pro code?

    Microsoft have now forced this person to shell out more money to buy Windows Vista Business, to then be able to legally put Windows XP Pro on. If Microsoft did not do a stupid number of editions with Vista and kept it like Windows 2000 was, just one client OS there would be no issue, as everyone would be entiltled to downgrade rights, not just the Vista Business users. The "downgrades rights have always been available" does not wash with me, its not as simple as it was with Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows 98.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This has been on before...

    .. and stop teh MS bashing here, its not there fault.

    MS DO NOT charge for the xp licence, it comes as part of the downgrade (you could say that your paying for the licence as part of the vista cost but then your just nit picking).

    The charge here is the cost the retailer are charging to INSTALL the os, if you decide to not pay the charge, you get the discs (yes all the business PC's we have here have had 2 sets of discs, one vista, one xp as part of the free downgrade, even on teh cheapest pcs so i doubt if the retailer was paying any extra to provide customer service) and you install it yourself. The charge is for the time taken for someone else to install xp.

    Again, not MS fault here, if anything its the retailer, but its more the women jumping on a bandwagon and not knowing what she is doing. Oh and a lot of angry internet people foaming at the mouth for another change provided by el reg to bash MS (notice i said MS , not microshit, microshaft , M$ or any of the other "witty" ways to say the company name)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is required.

    I think the point they are trying to make is that:

    She buys computer X with OS Y.

    Make of OS Y says it can run on X.

    Y cant run on X.

    computer needs OS Z to work.

    She has to pay for Z although she paied for X already.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Scott Swarthout

    ""Downgrade rights" have not ever really been a problem. It was not until Vista that one was unable to purchase an older version of the OS. Win 98 was on the shelves even after Win ME (and a good thing too)

    it wasn't until Vista that you could not buy a prebuilt machine with anything other than the latest WinOS."

    Wasn't this more to do with Microsoft's software lifecycle than a change of policy? XP is the longest-lasting version of Windows that Microsoft had, and it's end-of-life date had already been increased because Vista had not been completed.

    The reason Microsoft wanted to stop selling XP may have partly been to increase uptake of Vista, but it's also so that they can stop providing support for it on a specified date, rather than having to support it, and any later versions of Windows, indefinitely.

    "I don't understand, Microsoft are forcing retailers to ship new PC's with Vista, if you want a stable operating system then you need to pay extra for XP. this isn't right.

    They should be offering both operating systems otherwise you can't get a stable PC without paying extra,"

    That's rubbish - have you actually used Vista post-SP1? It's at least as stable as XP. I use it every day at work and it hasn't crashed on me at all. A lot of the reported problems don't actually exist any more.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Figure this...

    /start rant

    Couple of months ago I bought a new HP laptop in the US (pavillion dv4). The sales PFY insisted this laptop could only run on Vista and an upgrade to XP was impossible.

    So, I bought it anyways, repartitioned it and installed Ubuntu on the second partition. It ran after 15 minutes of installation, with most parts of the hardware properly running. The only extra thing I needed was the audio drivers, which took me another 30 minutes, mainly because my WiFi connection was slow (hotel network). Yes, even wifi ran from first boot (v8.10).

    Then, I proceeded to upgrade Vista to XP, which turned out to be a bit of a headache. Apart from the basic installation taking 1 1/2 hour, it was missing some crucial drivers (the PFY could have been correct if I was a 80 year old grandma). I like it when Windows asks if it should download the drivers for the network card it detected from windowsupdate on the internet. Windows developers should read catch-22 methinks.

    Anyways, HP support was not much help. They also insist this laptop is Vista only, and there are NO (useful) drivers to be found on their website.

    It wasn't until I downloaded all the Vista drivers and installed them on my XP-pro edition until everything worked!!!!

    Nice ploy. You rename your drivers to something-vista from something-xp, and then say XP is not supported.

    Everything is running on my XP installation (sod off you PFY!!)

    And no, it was not possible to get the laptop from the shop with any other OS, or without any OS to start with. I just wanted this laptop for it's specs

    Did I just raise Microsoft's Vista sales by one? Yes I did. Did I want it? No! Do I use it? NO!

    Vista was just plain annoying to use as a power-user. Simple things like Wireshark on PPP connections are impossible, and I have to use 3 kinds of VPN clients to connect into my customers and office, which all required some different hard-to-find Vista (64bit) version.

    To me, an "upgrade" means it makes things better to work on, and easier, and better supported, and that's why Vista isn't.

    /end rant

    I have to say the tech guys at the same shop I bought the laptop from were happy to give me an XP OEM CD ;-)

    oh, and why don't I throw away Microsoft altogether? My company runs Exchange 2007. Make that work in Linux, and I'll be happy to set my full partition to it. (the VPNs are not a problem!)

  54. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    I cant see how Microsoft profit from this madness. Surely they are losing lifelong customers to linux, damaging customer realtions and encouraging piracy.

    Ofcourse another method to get XP is to buy a cheap second hand licensed computer for less than the cost of the license itself?

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  57. FreeTard

    @Scott Swarthout Mac blah blah

    Actually they do, when I bought my ibook G4 a few years back, it came with BOTH OSX and OS9. It was purely my choice as to which I could use.

    So that's actually a good comparison to vista and XP, innit?

  58. TimNevins

    Reminds me of an old sign

    I remember a sign at my local mechanic's garage.

    "The tools are free to borrow but come with a qualified mechanic who is charged at the full hourly rate"

    The point is that there *is* a cost in time,convenience and price in order to obtain said downgrade.

    These are hurdles to "encourage" users not to go down that path. If there were to be a charge it should be pennies for the media.

    The cost of installing/configuring I suspect would be borne fairly by the end user.

  59. Bob. Hitchen

    What's Vista?

    All the machines in my house run either xp or linux. Why would I want to downgrade to Vista whatever that is? Oh I build my own or put the O/S on I want. Problem here is that M/S and its agent Dell abuse a monopoly position. Oh XP isn't supported well there you go - there goes nothing. Even if this lady doesn't win it raises the embarrassment stakes and gives organisations like the EU ammunition.

  60. CypherDragon

    @OEM charges morons

    @All who have posted that the OEMs are charging for the install service for XP rather than the XP license: where's your proof? Do you think that the OEMs have people that sit around and install the OS for each machine? Not bloody likely!

    A more reasonable theory is that they have different stacks of pre-loaded and pre-imaged hard stack labeled "Vista Home," another for "Vista Business," and somewhere along the line, a stack labeled "XP Pro BUSINESSES ONLY!" or some such. There is not any extra effort put in on the OEM side to install XP rather than Vista, just slotting a different hard drive to the chassis. All the hard drives used for assembly are probably all formatted and have a ghost image mass-installed by a copying device (the one I used for massive deployments was able to copy a ghost image of 2000 to up to 12 different hard drives at a time, and that was years ago during the NT4 to 2000 upgrade we did). So where is this "service charge" coming from again?

  61. N

    Spot on AC

    When you compare the two side by side on the same PC/laptop, XP is definitely an upgrade from Vista, it runs like the wind.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I did not mention changing any hardware. You can buy a reasonable specced computer for below £60 which is about the current cost of a single OEM license to the average person. On a good day on Ebay you can grab some bargins if look at PC's for local collection only. An Athon 64 3200 with 1GB, 80GB, 17" CRT, KB and licensed Windows XP for £13 is my best find yet.

    I would never dream of changing hardware on a licensed Windows XP rig ;)

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Why didn't this happen?

    The woman walks into the store and says, "I need a computer".

    PFY: "Yes ma'am, which one would you like?"

    Woman: "This one"

    PFY: "What OS do you prefer? We have ThisOS,

    ThatOS and OtherOS?"

    Woman: "ThatOS, with the previous version".

    PFY: "Certainly, we'll have to charge you for ThatOS v2 and ThatOS v1

    plus installation fee."

    Woman: "Never mind, I'll take OtherOS instead."

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