Vista incapable: very irritating (and tenure abuse)

The "Wow" starts with Wednesday's IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft gets sued over those "Vista Capable" stickers. Not to mention how to abuse your position as a tenured professor...

It's Nancy Gohring (with fried egg): [Sigh, you already did this joke -Ed.]

Microsoft Corp. unfairly labeled PCs "Windows Vista Capable" even when the computers could only run the most basic form of the operating system, according to a lawsuit filed against the company today. Prior to the availability of Vista, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign that allowed PC makers to place a sticker on computers alerting potential buyers that they could upgrade to Vista when it became available. However, "a large number" of those PCs were only capable of running the Home Basic version of Vista, which lacks many of the features, such as media center and enhanced graphics, that Microsoft advertises as included in Vista, the suit alleges.

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Many of the machines with the Vista label cannot run or poorly run Home Premium, the least expensive version of Vista that includes most of the heavily advertised features, the suit says. In addition, when Microsoft later offered buyers of "Windows Vista Capable" computers free or reduced-price upgrades to Vista, the company offered Home Basic to many customers.

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Microsoft argues that it "conducted a broad effort to educate computer manufacturers, retailers and consumers about the hardware requirements to run different versions of Windows Vista."

Let's all kiss Todd Bishop's ring:

[The logo program] was part of the effort to keep people buying PCs despite Windows Vista's delay ... Microsoft and its partners made it clear that advanced versions and features of Windows Vista would take computers that were not only "capable" but also "premium ready" -- meeting a higher level of system requirements. But those logos, by themselves, didn't make that distinction.

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The suit alleges that some people bought "Vista Capable" machines assuming they would be able to run all the Windows Vista features that Microsoft was touting -- such as Aero Glass, Flip3D, and the Media Center interface ... Here's a copy of the complaint: PDF, 18 pages ... Microsoft disputes the allegations and says it will contest the suit. As explained in the story, Microsoft says it went above and beyond to make clear the differences between merely "capable" and "premium ready."

Paul Miller's been reading Slashdot:

Part of that effort even included a special "Premium Ready" sticker for retail machines that were up to snuff, but there's no mention of what you're missing out on affixed to Basic machines ... Dianne Kelly of Camano Island, Washington, who's behind the suit, alleges that Microsoft was misleading buyers.

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There's no denying that Vista Basic is in many ways just a slight upgrade over XP, and that the multiple versions of Vista are expensive and unnecessarily complicated, but from how it looks right now, it's hard to see the suit going too far.

John Biggs raises an eyebrow:

Dianne Kelley is sick of fake Vista stickers. She goes into a store, buys a computer, and finds it can’t run Microsoft Vista’s fancy Aero interface. What’s a poor woman to do? Sue! In a proposed class action lawsuit, Kelley is suing to protest the practice of putting Vista-Ready on anything and everything with a keyboard and mouse when we all know damn well that a Dell with 256MB and greenscreen monitor won’t show Vista’s signature task switching thingy.

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This was our complaint from the start. All these ridiculous versions — Basic, Ultimate, Penultimate, Super Duper — just frustrate the bored and litigious. Make everything Ultimate, make everyone buy a new PC, and suck up the loss in low-end sales.

Paul Thurrott agrees:

From the moment I revealed how Microsoft planned to spam users with an unprecedented number of Windows Vista product versions, I decried this plan as too complex, both for users and the companies that would have to support them. Mac users rightfully point to Apple's single Mac OS X SKU for client machines as an example of how to keep things simple and consumer-friendly, and while I agree that some product differentiation is OK, Microsoft is out of control. Obviously.

Joe Lewis thinks wishfully:

So, the negative publicity surrounding Vista continues to mount, and rival operating systems like Linux are reaping all the benefits.

RobertM1968 sighs:

If the machine says "Vista Capable" and it runs any version of Vista - then it's Vista Capable. MS is just taking advantage of consumers' inability to interpret what is stated... just like someone complaining about a store sale that says up to 50% off - "Why is this only 10% off?" - "Because it says UP TO 50%".

But Anivair disagrees:

I think this case has merit. Not just because I want to see MS go down, but also because I'm sick of bait and switch advertising in technology. I also want to see someone sue a video game company for advertising a game showing all cut scenes with no real gameplay. I hate that.

Coryoth tries an analogy:

If I advertise my hamburgers as having half a pound of beef, and also have advertisements saying that my salads come with a free hamburger (not mentioning that the free hamburger is a McDonalds hamburger) then the advertising is being deceptive. Sure, both ads are technically true, but in conjucction they are designed to mislead.

It is true that the machines are technically Vista Capable in that they can run, and the features MS advertises for Vista are features that Vista has. However, the machines that are Vista Capable are not capable of running what MS is advertising Vista to be. Sure, both ads are technically true, but in conjunction they are designed to mislead.

Move over, Number Six, here's 8127972:

I'd imagine that a few chairs are being chucked at Microsoft H.Q. today.

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... The final assignment bonus link: Yes, that's exactly what I meant

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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