Microsoft faces legal action over XP downgrade fees

By on February 17, 2009, 11:31 AM
As Microsoft moves to retire Windows XP by restricting its distribution, several manufacturers and retailers have been charging a fee to replace Vista on new machines. This however has led to accusations that the company is knowingly exploiting the unpopularity of its flagship operating system to make a profit from people who want to “downgrade” their machines.

Specifically, a woman named Emma Alvarado has filed a lawsuit asking that Microsoft returns the $59.25 fee she paid for downgrading a Lenovo notebook with Windows Vista Business preinstalled to XP Professional. She further alleges that about one third of all computer buyers have paid to use XP when Vista was the only choice and claims Microsoft's repeated extensions of its downgrade program are meant to exploit the “tremendous profits” that come from this scheme.

Alvarado is hoping to get class action status for her lawsuit and have Microsoft pay the bill for those downgrades. The software giant argues that it is computer makers who charge users the additional fees. However, Microsoft may indeed profit from the way it structures downgrade rights, seeing as only their higher priced Vista Business and Ultimate editions are eligible for downgrades and then only to XP Professional.




User Comments: 22

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paulwuzhere said:
It would be a shame if that Lenovo could use all 4GBs of ram with that 64-bit Business. People need to start trying vista for themselves instead of listening to these old men that try to install it on their six year-old dell. Wake up people and enjoy the new technology.
peacefulchaos said:
[b]Originally posted by paulwuzhere:[/b][quote]...old men that try to install it on their six year-old dell...[/quote]The only thing I'll keep on my six-year-old Dell is Linux. To buy a brand-new laptop and pay to have it downgraded is silly. Are people really that scared of change...still? I understand companies downgrading laptops that come in to keep all of the computers on the network on the same OS, but doing this for a personal laptop and then paying to go to court over it.... o_O Good luck lady. You'll need it.
MichaelLS said:
Well said, it cost money to perform the work! What's the problem here?Working Vista or not - someone has to invest time and thus money to accomplish this downgrade.On the other hand, when you need the hardware, why are the vendors forcing the client / customer to accept Vista, especially for non-compatible hardware - minimum Vista hardware configuration or not? Is Micro$oft strong arming the manufacturers? Forcing the failed Vista distribution! Apparently so.[Edited by MichaelLS on 2009-02-17 13:10:27]
DarkCobra said:
MichahelLS has it right . . . people today seem to want everything for free. Unreal.
dustin_ds3000 said:
ok i fix computers for lots of people. if someone came to me with a vista machine and had a xp cd with key code and wanted me to remove vista and install xp i would charge them like 30 or 40 bucks. time isnt free. this lady got free xp but still had to pay for the time to do the work.
MichaelLS said:
IT / MIS people do not work for free people! Regardless of Vista issues - who pays for their salaries and wages. Reality is... this is not free.
darkshadoe said:
[b]Originally posted by dustin_ds3000:[/b][quote]ok i fix computers for lots of people. if someone came to me with a vista machine and had a xp cd with key code and wanted me to remove vista and install xp i would charge them like 30 or 40 bucks. time isnt free. this lady got free xp but still had to pay for the time to do the work. [/quote]Well this could be part of the problem1. You would charge 30 or 40 bucks. Which is it? Why not $100. Do you make up your prices as you go along?2. "time isnt free" Yes your correct other than the fact that you are over charging people for what amounts to an hour of unsupervised work. You wipe the harddrive, put the WinXP disk in, tap a few buttons and your done. What actual work have you done to warrant 30 or 40 bucks?Its "screw your neighbor" business ethics like this that has been a major reason the economy is in the toilet right now. Btw..if you have any customers wanting to switch OS, send them my way..i'll only charge $10.00 :)
dustin_ds3000 said:
if you wanna make 10 buck for 3 hours of your time be my guest, installing windows xp and sp1 then sp3 takes some time and then you have to make sure all the drivers are updated
anguis said:
lol $10, i wouldnt trust you if you only charged $10 to perform a task that could take as long as 2 hours
jimmy5 said:
[b]Originally posted by dustin_ds3000:[/b][quote]if you wanna make 10 buck for 3 hours of your time be my guest, installing windows xp and sp1 then sp3 takes some time and then you have to make sure all the drivers are updated [/quote]I agree with darkshadoe, when installing xp you could walk away and do other things. In fact, you could probably do about 5 machines at once in the 3 hours and still have time to eat a pizza and have a coffee.But I don't think that's her point, it's the princible of it. If it was going from xp to vista I say charge for the upgrade but not a downgrade.Would they still charge her the same amount if they handed her the xp cd.Did they disclose that it was a "service" fee?? If they did then she is barking up the wrong tree.Is it the "cost for the xp" itself?I would need more info before making a judgement call.
MichaelLS said:
Wow! For only $10.00!!! And out of this you pay your power bill, insurance, liability insurance, employee payroll, taxes, water, sewer and a whole host of other operating costs. You're really amazing! Or, really just completely out of touch with reality! It's either one or the other!Give me a break - some of us are in this business professionally!And we are talking about downgrading recently introduced / newer equipment platforms.Thanks for your opinion hobbyist!
darkshadoe said:
[b]Originally posted by jimmy5:[/b][quote][b]Originally posted by dustin_ds3000:[/b][quote]if you wanna make 10 buck for 3 hours of your time be my guest, installing windows xp and sp1 then sp3 takes some time and then you have to make sure all the drivers are updated [/quote]I agree with darkshadoe, when installing xp you could walk away and do other things. In fact, you could probably do about 5 machines at once in the 3 hours and still have time to eat a pizza and have a coffee.But I don't think that's her point, it's the princible of it. If it was going from xp to vista I say charge for the upgrade but not a downgrade.Would they still charge her the same amount if they handed her the xp cd.Did they disclose that it was a "service" fee?? If they did then she is barking up the wrong tree.Is it the "cost for the xp" itself?I would need more info before making a judgement call.[/quote]Exactly Jimmy5!Hmm..A fair price + Fast service = Happy Customer = Return Business = Profit....Its so crazy it might just work! : )
darkshadoe said:
[b]Originally posted by MichaelLS:[/b][quote]Wow! For only $10.00!!! And out of this you pay your power bill, insurance, liability insurance, employee payroll, taxes, water, sewer and a whole host of other operating costs. You're really amazing! Or, really just completely out of touch with reality! It's either one or the other!Give me a break - some of us are in this business professionally!And we are talking about downgrading recently introduced / newer equipment platforms.Thanks for your opinion hobbyist![/quote]Oh the flames burn high when people are scared. Its ok tho..Its just a forum. Please feel free to call me what you will. I imagine I've been called worse by far better people in this lifetime. :)
gbe300 said:
Why do I have to buy a vista installed machine ... I should have the option to buy an installed PC for the hardware I want and then take it where ever I want to install anything I want. I think the main issue here is not that people are being charged x or y for the downgrade, but rather that they have to do it this way because of the forced market... ie saying the only option is to have to buy a vista installed pc. Bottom line is, everyone should be able to buy a blank PC or Laptop if they want. Not a pc pre-installed with tons of blot. I personally like and use vista on multiple PCs but the bottom line is the customer should have the freedom to get just hardware if they want to and not be forced into buying a pre-installed pc let alone one pre installed with something they do not want.
peacefulchaos said:
[b]Originally posted by gbe300:[/b][quote]...Bottom line is, everyone should be able to buy a blank PC or Laptop if they want. ...[/quote]You can. It's called building your own. :)If you don't want to do that you can always pay someone to build it for you and put on whatever OS you like!
sassol said:
Hi All.I think Microsoft or whoever does the XP downgrade, should charge for the downgrade because there is extra work involved to do so. What annoys me is that one cannot still buy XP licenses. What I have seen of Vista does not please me:It seems to be designed to clog up your hard drive with Restore Points which cannot be turned off (is that correct?)It is resource hungry (need 1GB RAM just to run the OS never mind apps!!).Much of the technical software I use won't run on it yet. Now none of this comes as a surprise to me. Someone once said that Microsoft is not a software company. It is a marketing company that sells software. Going by MS history and the poor quality of its products I agree. I run a Mac at home.
DarkCobra said:
@sassolA couple of responses as what you have said is curious to me:"It seems to be designed to clog up your hard drive with Restore Points which cannot be turned off (is that correct?)"- my response is . . . and this is a problematic negative because? . . . of what? Restore points are merely points where the system is functioning ok that you can utilize to roll back to if things go bad. Why wouldn't you want markers to those points established? You may be right but I just fail to see why this is really such a negative. Don't get me wrong, as I've got all kinds of OTHER issues with their OS. I just never viewed this one as all that problematic."It is resource hungry (need 1GB RAM just to run the OS never mind apps!!). Much of the technical software I use won't run on it yet."- my response is this is actually "relative". If you're running VISTA with AERO and all the bells and whistles switched on which skews the computer to appearance in lieu of performance, then yeah you're gonna need a full gig of RAM and even that's a bare bones minimum. However, again why is 1GB of RAM an issue when RAM is dirt cheap right now? Most people intentionally do a RAM cram voluntarily and as a result find that their system and their programs run a lot smoother. If you run the system with only a minimum of RAM you are indeed going to find that some of your apps are not going to play nice with the system. I'll bet you've got more than a 1 gig of ram in your apple computer.Finally, you said "Now none of this comes as a surprise to me. Someone once said that Microsoft is not a software company. It is a marketing company that sells software."- my response is this is not entirely true. Microsoft is indeed a software company AS WELL AS a marketing company "OF" their software! So what you were told isn't entirely true.I will definitely agree with you that the quality of their operating system with VISTA and the quality of their IE browser has indeed declined. They have sadly done little more than cosmetic makeovers and seriously need a total restructuring of their operating system platform and browser if they are going to compete.Apple has a nice system however they have and will always suffer from the same fatal disease that plagued and is now destroying the once mighty Sony. That disease in a word is "PROPRIETARY". They are far too proprietary in their products and in their philosophy of how they view the rest of the world. I must add that MS lately ain't much better in all fairness. Apple has been around for like 30 years now, just like MS pretty much and STILL they only have about 20% of the market share in computers? If they truly had a better mouse trap, that would not be the case.[Edited by DarkCobra on 2009-02-20 17:50:05]
supersmashbrada said:
I'm a recent pc builder. I dont have my own shop or anything like that. I've ran xp 32 then 64 bit. Was forced to upgrade to vista and had to have 64 bit version of course. I purchased a 250 usd zune, then finding out there were no drivers supported by M$. I said "WHAT!!" How can you not have driver support for a device you make that hooks up to a pc with a os you also make. Funny that they had vista 64 bit drivers though. Anyway. Only because my hardware can support Vista I have no current issues, BUT as we speak I'm running a music player and this web browser is open, running 2.39gb of ram in task manager. I can see why people with basic/entry level pc's want to downgrade. If you buy a pc retail it comes with Vista, in that case you should have to pay for a downgrade.I say if you're ordering online from one of these pc companies you should have the free option to have xp installed for free. This way at least we have options.
DarkCobra said:
I agree, It sure would be nice if MS would continue their support of ALL their OS's. However, even the mighty MS has limited resources and prior OS's have a shelf life in terms of support they are going to render. It's like a new car . . . it's only under warranty and therefore responsibility of the maker for a set amount of time. The XP OS was tremendously popular and when MS announced they would no longer be providing support for it, a ground swell of world wide outcries sounded out. So, MS caved to the pressure and continued support but only for a bit longer. I'm confused about something you said though. You said you upgraded to Vista 64 and found that MS didn't have drivers for your Zune. But, then you said they had drivers for it in Vista 64. Have I read this wrong? It's probably me. LOL!
supersmashbrada said:
no You read it correctly. They basically forced me to upgrade to vista to get it working. They make the Zune, but do not have drivers for xp 64 bit edition, go figure right?
DarkCobra said:
Ah! I got it. I totally agree with you that for MS to have hardware out that their own fairly recent software won't run on is absurd. You indeed had no choice but to upgrade to Vista 64 from XP 64 to get their own Zune product to run. It's not like you were asking for them to write code now for Windows 95 or something. I mean XP 64 isn't that old at all. Windows 7 will be here soon and they better stop this little back handed game of suddenly ending support for everything but their latest OS. I've never considered an Apple computer but if MS continues such antics . . . Apple here I come and I'll bet I won't be alone.
johnsoncat13 said:
I have not read the actual lawsuit and don't really care about the details. But some of you have a lot of never saying that we should wake up and enjoy the new technology. I have had vista for over a year. In that time, I have had nothing but problems with it. It bogs down my computer, errors programs that ran just fine on XP, causes my HP printer to error all the time, etc,etc. I could go on more and more. I just started taking online college classes. Vista was a disaster when compatability issues came up. One of my daughters online classes doesn't even accept Vista. I contacted them and it isn't because of their systems being to old but the Vista kept conflicted with their programing. So I contacted Microsoft directly explaining the conflict with college classes. Their e-mail stated that if I had a retail copy of Vista that I could not downgrade for free and that I would have to contact their sales department. I am not paying for a screw up on Microsoft's part. I have since got rid of Vista and will never use it again unless major changes are done to it.As for the "professional" people who get paid to install programs, I have no problem paying for your services. I believe if you do work you should get paid for it. I do not believe that I should have to pay for a downgraded program, that businesses get for free.[Edited by johnsoncat13 on 2009-03-15 17:06:13]
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