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8/8/2007
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Judge Says 'Windows Vista Capable' Lawsuit Can Proceed

Two customers charged that Microsoft used deceptive marketing tactics to promote its new Windows Vista operating system.

A federal judge has ruled that two consumers can proceed with a lawsuit that claims Microsoft's "Windows Vista Capable" campaign was misleading.

Seattle District Court Judge Marsha Pechman on Tuesday rejected Microsoft's request for a dismissal of the case. Microsoft had argued that the plaintiffs, Dianne Kelley and Kenneth Hansen, lacked standing to bring the action.

A trial has been scheduled for October.

Kelley and Hansen claim they were the victims of "bait and switch" sales tactics by Microsoft and filed a class action suit against the software maker in March, alleging that it used deceptive marketing tactics to promote its new Windows Vista operating system.

Kelley and Hansen claim that many personal computers labeled as "Windows Vista Capable" before the operating system hit stores in January were hardly that. Microsoft assured consumers "that they were purchasing Vista capable machines when, in fact, they could obtain only a stripped down operating system," according to the initial complaint.

In contention is the very definition of Windows Vista itself. Kelley and Hansen argue that some computers sold as Vista-capable were capable of only running a basic version of the operating system that lacks Vista's defining features -- such as the space-age Aero interface, Flip 3-D navigation tools, and Media PC functions.

On its Web site, Microsoft states that the Home Basic edition of Windows Vista must run on a PC that has at least an 800-MHz processor, 512 Mbytes of system memory, and a graphics processor that is Direct X 9 compatible. In contrast, premium editions of the operating system require at least a 1-GHz processor, 1 Gbyte of system memory, and a 40-Gbyte hard drive with 15 Gbytes of free space to run properly.

Microsoft has said its Vista Capable campaign included a Vista Premium Ready marketing effort that clearly stated the differences between the various versions of the operating system and the hardware needed to run them.

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