Microsoft has seen the class-action status of its 'Vista Capable' lawsuit removed, ensuring the company can't be sued by a group of potentially thousands of consumers. Instead, those involved in the case will have to sue Microsoft individually.
The case is based on claims that Microsoft defrauded customers by promoting PCs and laptops as 'Vista Capable' when they could only run Windows Vista Home Basic. The plaintiffs have contended that Vista Home Basic is not the 'real' Vista, in large part because it lacks the Aero user interface. Microsoft has denied that it duped consumers, and has countered that Home Basic is a legitimate version of Vista.
"We're pleased that the court granted our motion to decertify the class, leaving only the claims of six individuals," said David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesperson.
"We look forward to presenting our case to the jury, should the plaintiffs elect to pursue their individual claims.
However, Microsoft also lost a request for a summary judgement, a ruling based on facts presented ahead of the trial. The company has argued that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that Vista Home Basic was not the 'real Vista' nor that consumers overpaid for PCs because of the Vista Capable ad campaign.
This means the case will now go to trial should the plaintiffs opt to continue. The company has already seen a stream of embarrassing emails made public through the lawsuit.
In the ruling, US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman said that while class action status is no longer appropriate for the case, it makes "no comment" on the claims people paid higher prices for PCs as a result of the Vista Capable Campaign.
"Defendant is mistaken to equate Plaintiffs' failure to provide class-wide proof of causation with a failure to present an issue for trial," she wrote in a 17-page ruling.