RealTime IT News

Microsoft Asks for Vista Suit's Dismissal

Pre-trial discovery in the "Windows Vista Capable" lawsuit has ended – but that's just the start of the legal maneuvering in what may be Microsoft's most vexing case.

Microsoft's attorneys filed a pair of motions on Thursday asking the judge to decertify the case's class action status as well as to dismiss the suit altogether, claiming that the plaintiffs have not proved their case.

The motions came on the heels of Federal Judge Marsha Pechman's unsealing of hundreds of pages of e-mails in the Vista Capable lawsuit in recent days. Such filings are not uncommon, according to analysts.

If the judge agrees to dismiss the suit, there will be no trial. If she decertifies the case's class action status, that could make it much more difficult for individuals who feel they were fooled into buying PCs during the 2006 holiday season, to collect damages.

Microsoft's latest filings claim that the plaintiffs' expert witness, an economist, admits that there is no way to place a monetary value on the theoretical damage done to individuals who bought PCs under the Vista Capable program. That, it says, indicates that there is no "class" that may have been swindled, and that there is no way to measure whether the program itself was deliberately deceptive and injured buyers.

Of course, Judge Pechman could also grant neither motion, which, from her earlier rulings – including certifying the suit for class action status back in February – appears as likely as any other outcome.

However, although the e-mails demonstrated much passionate debate and discussion among Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) employees from mid-level managers up to senior executives. The e-mails also show the tension between Microsoft employees and those at other companies, notably Intel and HP.

Still, even with so many pages of raw e-mails, it may still be difficult to prove that the company deliberately gypped unsuspecting consumers.

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