• "Vista Capable" Lawsuit Loses Class Action Status
  • April 1, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • A federal court has decertified a putative class action lawsuit alleging consumers were misled by Microsoft Corp.’s advertising of certain Windows XP computers as “Windows Vista Capable.”

    The complaint contended that Microsoft’s labeling of some personal computers as “Windows Vista Capable” was misleading because many of the computers were not powerful enough to support all of Vista’s features, including the “Aero” user interface.

    The court reversed its own decision from last February certifying the class, writing that the plaintiffs did not show that Microsoft artificially inflated demand for PCs that could run only the more basic version of Vista. They also failed to prove that Microsoft was unjustly enriched by sales of “Vista Capable” computers, the court wrote.

    In the course of discovery in the case, e-mails among Microsoft executives, computer manufacturers, and chipmakers showed high-level executives questioning Microsoft’s marketing plan prior to the January 2007 launch of Vista. During the holiday season preceding the debut, Microsoft and PC makers labeled certain PCs “Vista Capable,” while labeling more powerful computers “Premium Ready,” or able to run all of Vista’s features.

    Although the court found that consumers still had the option to sue individually, the decertification is a huge blow to the case, since the damages per individual are probably not high enough to compel most consumers to pursue their own separate lawsuits.