Around this time last year, computer manufactures were trying to convince people not to wait until Vista came out to buy a new computer. To that end Microsoft devised what was (and still is) considered to be one of the most confusing marketing campaigns ever.
Some computers could only run a very basic version of Vista that did not include all the fancy “Aero” windows. Other computers were able to run any version of Vista. These computers were given stickers that either said “Certified for Windows Vista” or “Works with Windows Vista.” The latter meant that the computer would technically “work.” Maybe not with all the features, but it would work.
We wrote a post explaining the various stickers and urged people to be careful when they bought a new computer. Some people didn’t get the message, and now they’re suing Microsoft, seeking class action status. They claim that because there was a sticker that said “Vista capable” on the actual machine (separate from the aforementioned “Certified for Windows Vista” and the “Works With Windows Vista” stickers) the computer should have been able to run every version of the new operating system. They believe they were deliberately tricked into buying a computer that was already obsolete.
We recently got a complaint letter about the issue. Reader Craig writes (to Howard Stringer, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony):
Dear Mr. Stringer,
I am writing to express my frustration, anger, and resentment at what I view are dishonest selling practices by Sony. Last year I left the Navy (US Navy) and began taking classes to enter Dental School. After my old Vaio laptop gave out from all the sand and humidity it occurred in the Gulf, I decided to purchase another Vaio that would carry me through Dental School. I choose a ultra portable VGN-TX750P, paying around 2100.00 American for it. Even though it had windows xp on it, it had a sticker saying it was Windows Vista Capable – which assured me when vista came out I could put it on my computer. Well, I have tried to install Vista and while it can be installed, Vista is in crippled state that doesn’t allowing some of the newest and innovative features of vista to function (like Aero windows).
As a loyal Vaio user for 5 years, I feel as Sony lied about what it was selling. To me, “capable” means “able”, and since there were no limiting factors on the sticker (which is/was on the computer itself) I think this is false advertising. I could understand if Sony was told one thing by Microsoft and sold items predicated on that incorrect information. But once the original information was learned to be incorrect a refund should have been available so customers could return the item for a refund and then upgrade to a product that was truly “capable.”
I am not going to sue if that is what you are thinking – first I am not that type of person and second I am too busy with school and taking care of my expecting wife. I just think you should know that your shadowy selling practices do have an effect even on a once “loyal” customer. What I can do is cc a few people so they may understand how Sony operates.
Was Microsoft being deliberately misleading, or are they just incompetent?
PREVIOUSLY: Getting Ready for Vista