Opinion: Microsoft's "Vista Capable" advertising may cost the company in the courts.
I can think of many reasons not to buy Vista, but why should I? After all, Microsoft has been doing a great job of that all by itself.
Take, for example, the fact that U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman just ruled that a proposed class action lawsuit accusing Microsoft of what amounts to deceptive advertising can go forward. And what does it say Microsoft did that was deceptive, you ask?
Remember all those PCs a few months ago that had stickers on them that claimed PCs were "Windows Vista Capable"? Everyone thought this meant that the PCs were, well, "capable" of actually running Vista. The suits point is that those rebranded XP system were really only capable of running Windows Vista Home Basic. If that.
Have you ever looked at Vista Home Basic? Calling it a dog is an insult to all hard-working canines. It cant run Vistas eye candy, the Aero Glass interface. It doesnt have DVD video authoring or Media Center support. Compared to Windows XP Home SP2, Id call it a downgrade.
Of course, the people who bought these "Capable" machines werent running Home Basic on it. Get real. They were running Vista Home Premium or Vista Business. Let me rephrase that: They were trying to run Home Premium or Business. I suppose some of those poor people even tried running that champion system hog, Vista Ultimate, on it.
What actually happened was that they discovered that "Capable" was proving incapable. Nice one, Microsoft! No wonder Ive been hearing your customersnot Mac fans or desktop Linux usersreferring to Vista as Windows ME II.
Windows Millennium Edition, for those who dont recall it, was the worse version of Windows since... Well, maybe it was the worse ever. And yes, Im including Windows 1.0 in that ranking. No one really expected anything out of Windows 1.0, after all.
Does Windows Vista break existing applications? Click here to read more.
Of course, Microsoft also had another branding campaign for PCs. This was "Windows Vista Ready." These PCs were, in theory, "Ready" rather than just "Capable." Or, was it that these systems were more "Capable" instead of being just "Ready"?
If youre a regular eWEEK reader, you already know that "Ready" systems were the better machines. How many people shopping at Circuit City or Best Buy do you think knew the difference?
It was the job of the salespeople to inform customers, you say? Please! You do know the difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman, dont you? The used car salesman knows when hes lying.
I shouldnt make fun of computer salespeople though. After all, what could the salesmen really have known anyway? Microsoft didnt release tools for businesses to assess Vista hardware compatibility until Feb. 20. Thats almost three months after Microsoft "released" Vista in November and three weeks after Microsoft really released Vista on Jan. 30.
For that matter, if you look at Microsofts Vista Capable site today, youll find such complete nonsense as the statement that a Vista machine requires at least an 800MHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Vista-capable!? I dont think so! Thats barely XP Pro-capable.
And, more to the point, I suspect the courts arent going to buy that as being the system requirements for a Vista Capable machine either.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.