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Woman sues over Vista to XP 'downgrade' charge

Accused of abusing 'market power'

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A woman is suing Microsoft for allegedly charging her extra to downgrade from Windows Vista to XP.

Emma Alvarado bought a laptop pre-loaded with the Vista Business edition of the operating system from Lenovo on 20 June 2008.

However, she didn’t want to keep Vista on the machine so she paid the computer vendor an additional $59.25 in order to downgrade the OS to XP Professional.

According to the Seattle PI Alvarado, who is from Los Angeles, California, is seeking class action status after filing her complaint on 11 February with the federal court in Seattle.

"Consumers have encountered numerous problems using the Vista operating system, and these problems have been widely publicised in various media outlets,” reads the filing, which Seattle Times has a copy of here (pdf).

“As a result, many consumers would prefer to purchase a new computer pre-installed with the Windows XP operating system or at least not pre-installed with the Vista operating system.

“However, Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to 'downgrade' to the Windows XP operating system.”

But Microsoft still hasn’t officially seen the complaint. “We still have not been served with the Alvarado lawsuit, so it would be premature to comment on the complaint or the specific allegations,” a spokesman for the software giant told The Register.

He also reiterated the company's stance on customers wishing to downgrade from Vista to XP.

“Microsoft offers downgrade rights as part of some Windows Vista licenses, including Windows Vista Business purchased through the OEM channel," he said.

“Microsoft does not charge or receive any additional royalty if a customer exercises those rights. Some customers may choose or need to obtain media or installation services from third parties to install the downgrade version."

This new legal spat is the latest Vista headache for Microsoft.

US District Judge Marsha Pechman gave consumers the go-ahead in February 2008 to file a class action lawsuit against Microsoft for providing misleading information about Windows XP computers being able to run Vista.

Plaintiffs in that case allege Microsoft artificially inflated demand in the run-up to Christmas 2006, by falsely advertising that PCs would be capable of running the full version of the firm’s delayed Vista operating system. ®

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