In the lead up to the release of Windows Vista in January 2007, some 19 million computers were sold in the US with labels saying they were ‘Vista Capable.’ A distinction was made between ‘Vista Capable’ and ‘Vista Premium Ready.’ Computers which were ‘Vista Premium Ready’ were required to have more memory and better graphics peformance to enable them to run the aero interface. ‘Vista Capable’ meant the computer would run Vista Home Basic.

But now a class-action lawsuit has been filed demanding Microsoft pay the cost of upgrading plaintiffs’ PCs, on the basis that consumers were duped into paying higher prices for ‘Vista Capable’ PCs, when many of those computers are only powerful enough to run Windows Vista Home Basic.

But, duh, that’s what the label meant. That’s why there was another label for computers that were ‘Vista Premium Ready.’ If you wanted a computer that would run Home Premium, why didn’t you cough up for one in the first place?

‘Vista Home Basic is key to the lawsuit, which alleges that Microsoft’s Vista Capable program inflated the prices of PCs that could run only that edition and enticed users into buying machines that could not be later upgraded to any other version of Vista. Home Basic, the plaintiffs have contended, is not the “real” Vista, in large part because it lacks the Aero user interface.’

This is outright harassment. Even if Microsoft wins, it will still cost them millions to defend this action, not only in direct costs, but in diverting resources to providing documents, etc required by the court. And if the plaintiffs win, you have to wonder why any large business would continue to operate in the US, when this kind of vexatious and opportunistic litigation is a constant threat.