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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Vista Capable class action approaches watershed moment

Attorneys for Microsoft and the plaintiffs challenging its Windows Vista marketing program will go before U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman Thursday morning with the entire case at stake. Pechman will hear oral arguments on two Microsoft motions to dismiss the case on summary judgment and to decertify the class.

A ruling in Microsoft’s favor on either motion would likely bring the nearly 2-year-old case to a close. If Pechman sides with the plaintiffs, the case would proceed toward trial scheduled to begin in March April.

Given the looming trial date, attorneys in the case are expecting a relatively prompt ruling from Pechman, possibly from the bench.

The case produced a raft of internal Microsoft and PC industry e-mails and data that put the company and Windows Vista in an unflattering light. More documents were unsealed earlier today.

In its motions to boot the case, Microsoft argues that the headline-grabbing internal process behind the development of Vista and its marketing do not matter in the context of the narrow legal questions the plaintiffs were limited to when Pechman certified the case as a class action in February 2008.

The Vista Capable marketing program at issue was designed to maintain demand for PCs in late 2006 and early 2007 before the operating system was released. The plaintiffs argue that PCs that could only run the “Basic” version of Windows Vista were deceptively labeled “Vista Capable.”

Pechman limited the scope of the case to whether Windows Vista Home Basic can fairly be called “Windows Vista,” and whether the Vista Capable marketing campaign inflated demand for PCs marked with a Vista Capable logo, increasing prices.

Microsoft has argued that the plaintiffs have not proved the price inflation theory.

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