Microsoft: Vista Capable site description unchanged

Microsoft claims it has not changed wording around Windows Vista Capable on a Web site, despite reports it had

Despite reports to the contrary, Microsoft said Tuesday it has not changed wording at its Web site to explain more clearly how hardware with a "Windows Vista Capable" label will perform when running the OS, in light of a class-action lawsuit filed against the vendor last week.

Reports published this week by the Seattle Times and other news outlets claimed that Microsoft has updated the description of what the label means on the Windows Vista Capable Web site, which is part of a marketing campaign that was launched before Vista was available.

According to reports, the changes are in direct response to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington last week. The suit claims that Microsoft unfairly labeled PCs "Windows Vista Capable" even when the computers could only run the most basic form of the OS. Moreover, many of the machines with the label can't run or poorly run Home Premium, the least expensive version of Vista that includes most of the heavily advertised features, according to the suit, which is seeking class-action status and damages from the vendor.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said Tuesday that the description of Windows Vista Capable on the Web site has remained consistent since it was launched, and the reports of the changes were a case of comparing "apples to oranges."

"We checked with the Web folks, and they said the only changes made [on the site] were some tense changes associated with moving from holiday season to the launch of products," he said. "The descriptions have not changed."

Desler acknowledged, however, that the descriptions of Windows Vista Capable in Microsoft news releases around the launch of the program and the Web site are slightly different. This difference was highlighted in the Seattle Times report.

The news release from when the program launched described Windows Vista Capable machines as "powerful enough to run Windows Vista." The Web site now says that while all Windows Vista Capable machines will share some common features, all those with the label will have the same basic OS improvements. Some high-end features of the OS, such as the Aero user interface, may require "advanced or additional hardware," according to the site.

Despite what appear to be discrepancies, Desler insisted that Microsoft has been "consistent" in terms of articulating what Windows Vista Capable means. He said Microsoft news releases and content relating to those releases found elsewhere, such as on the Web, often use different wording to describe the same thing.

The Windows Vista Capable tag was part of a campaign that let PC manufacturers place stickers on computers to let customers know those machines would be able to run Vista once it became available. In part, the campaign was due to the fact that Microsoft did not have Vista ready for the holiday shopping season as planned, and the company wanted to ensure that the delay did not deter shoppers from buying PCs.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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