Microsoft Fights New Class Action Attempt in Vista Capable Case

Last week, Microsoft filed court papers in an attempt to put down a motion to reinstate class action status to the "Vista Capable" lawsuit it's been fighting since 2007. The lawsuit’s class action status was tossed out by a federal judge last month, so the plaintiffs in the case are trying to narrow the scope to a smaller customer group and get it reinstated. The original finding on the lawsuit’s class action status dates back more than a year.

"In February 2008, the Court explained why class certification is inappropriate for Plaintiffs claims involving a deception-based theory of causation," the Microsoft filing reads. "The Court recognized that although an individual plaintiff may assert claims as a result of a deceptive act, projecting that individual's experience to an entire class of persons would be like 'pound\[ing\] that peg into the wrong hole.'"

This case concerns Microsoft's promotions for Windows Vista in the months before the OS shipped in late 2006. The company's PC maker partners offered two types of PCs: those that were deemed "Vista Capable" and those that were "Vista Premium Ready." The lower-end Vista Capable machines often couldn't run some of Vista's high-end features, such as the Aero Glass UI.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs have attempted to narrow the scope of the class action from all purchasers of Vista Capable PCs to those who participated in Microsoft's Express Upgrade Guarantee program. This program let Vista Capable PC buyers upgrade their machines from Windows XP to Vista for little or no cost. Vista Capable PCs first appeared in April 2006.

Microsoft thinks this attempted narrowing of the scope of the complaint is even more spurious than the original case. "Customers knew which edition of Windows Vista they would receive through that program (and what features of Windows Vista that edition would provide) and thus received what they expected," the company notes in its filing. "Because the trier of fact would need individual proof to sort out which Express Upgrade customers did not get what they wanted as a result of an allegedly deceptive act, individual causation and injury issues preclude class certification."

The case is scheduled to go to trial April 13, but the plaintiffs are trying to delay the start of the trial so that the class action status can be reinstated and others can join them in the suit.

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