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Microsoft And OEMs Both To Blame For Vista Logo Program

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on an interesting lawsuit regarding Microsoft's Vista logo program. The suit alleges that Microsoft deceived customers by allowing OEMs to label low-end computers as "Windows Vista Capable" when they were only capable of running the feature-challenged Vista Home Basic. As much as Microsoft screwed up here, though, OEMs shouldn't get a pass on their complicity.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on an interesting lawsuit regarding Microsoft's Vista logo program. The suit alleges that Microsoft deceived customers by allowing OEMs to label low-end computers as "Windows Vista Capable" when they were only capable of running the feature-challenged Vista Home Basic. As much as Microsoft screwed up here, though, OEMs shouldn't get a pass on their complicity.Microsoft logo programs have always been a bit confusing. A handful of graphic icons are supposed to tell PC buyers whether the software and hardware they buy has been tested to work with a particular version of Windows. Tight standards give buyers more confidence in their purchases. Loose standards let hardware makers sell affordable systems, and also help Microsoft reinforce the view that Vista can run on low-end hardware.

This time, Microsoft made a serious miscalculation. No doubt, the calculation was made difficult by the confusing array of Vista versions. The low-priced Vista Basic certainly needs less hardware oomph than Vista Ultimate, so a single logo for Vista doesn't cut it. Internal e-mails from the lawsuit show that the Vista Capable logo even confused Microsoft staff, according to the article. One e-mail said "Even a piece of junk will qualify." An e-mail from Mike Nash, a corporate VP, said, "I PERSONALLY got burnt. ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine." (How in the heck do you spend $2,100 and get a system that can't run Vista well?)

Microsoft made some mistakes here, but don't we need to look at the role of the others in this chain? Most users buy their computers from companies such as Acer, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, or Lenovo, and through retail stores like Best Buy or Circuit City. These companies specify hardware configurations that are supposed to be a reasonable starting point for users looking for guidance. If the hardware maker sold their customer an underpowered computer, or they didn't explain that a low-end junker could only run Vista Home Basic, it seems like they bear at least some of the blame. Doesn't anyone care about customers anymore?

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing