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.

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