Feeds

Microsoft forbids class actions in new Windows licence

You're on your own now

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft will make it harder for customers to club together with lawyers to file lawsuits against its products.

The company is rolling out new End User License Agreements (EULAs) that forbid punters from joining class-action proceedings.

Assistant general counsel Tim Fielden announced the tweak here and said the changes will come into effect as Microsoft releases major hardware or software updates.

The first big product to include the altered licence will be Windows 8: a release candidate is expected in June before it ships for PCs and tablets in late summer or the autumn.

Under the new licence, US consumers upset with Microsoft's products must pursue the company through a small-claims court or to arbitration. Where an arbitrator suggests damages greater than any settlement proposed by Microsoft, the company will pay whichever is largest: the higher damages or $1,000 for “most products and services”. Microsoft will also pay double the claimant’s fees.

Microsoft has already updated the Xbox Live EULA to rule out class-action suits.

Fielden said of the new policy: “This means customer complaints will be resolved promptly, and in those cases where the arbitrator agrees with the customer’s position, the customer will receive generous compensation, and receive it quickly.”

The change was shuffled out the door on the Friday before the long Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US.

Microsoft is capitalising on a 2011 US Supreme Court ruling that upheld a company's right to include a clause in a contract that prohibits customers from suing as part of a class action. The case had been brought against AT&T.

Class-action suits in US law are supposed to help individuals stand up to large companies, spreading the risk and costs of an action. Specialist attorneys are brought in to fight such cases. When individuals each bring the same action against a firm, attorneys will lobby the presiding judge to grant the case class-action status.

Microsoft has been on the sharp end of a number of such suits. Recent examples include the debacle over Microsoft allegedly misleading buyers by authorising PC makers to label computers as Vista “capable” when they could only run basic editions of the operating system.

Redmond has also been accused of misleading consumers by calling Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) a critical security update when plaintiffs called it spyware. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.