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'Vista Capable' Plaintiffs Lose Again

Microsoft won another round in a lawsuit over its "Vista Capable" practices after the federal judge overseeing the case dismissed a key plaintiff contention.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman issued an order on Friday that denied the plaintiff's request for summary judgment on whether or not a hardware requirement in Windows Vista deceived consumers. A story by Todd Bishop noted the decision.

The issue concerns Microsoft's Vista marketing and hardware certification practices. A Vista Capable sticker was placed on new PCs capable of running the operating system, although the Home Basic edition of Vista could not run the operating system's new Aero graphical user interface.

Microsoft's hardware partners had to meet the requirements of Microsoft's Windows Device Driver Model (WDDM) to get Vista Capable certification. However, Microsoft later dropped that requirement based on a request from Intel, which could not get its 915 graphics chipsets compatible with WDDM in time for new PC shipments

Pechman ruled against the plaintiffs on a single element in the case: "the issue of whether Microsoft's decisions regarding the WDDM requirement were unfair or deceptive acts under the CPA [Consumer Protection Act for the state of Washington]." The plaintiffs cannot prove this point, she explained.

The trial has so far dredged up a number of unflattering internal Microsoft memos that made it seem as if Microsoft had removed the WDDM requirements to help Intel unload its 915 graphics chipsets. One memo alluded to an Intel executive thanking Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer for the help.

However, the judge noted that such internal company communications "do not establish that Microsoft's actions, as a matter of law, had a capacity to deceive a substantial portion of the public." Moreover, the communications predated "any public Vista Capable campaign."

Last month, the judge denied class-action status for the case. Today's order represents another big setback for the plaintiffs in the case, Kelley et al. v. Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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