Judge Tosses Out Windows Vista-to-XP Downgrade Lawsuit

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A Seattle judge has dismissed a "downgrade" from Windows Vista to Windows XP fee lawsuit that alleged antitrust violations. The class-action suit was filed by Emma Alvarado of Los Angeles in February 2009 after she was charged $59.25 to downgrade the operating system (OS) on a newly purchased Lenovo laptop.

Alvarado alleged that Microsoft abused its monopoly by trying to cash in on the popularity of Windows XP over Windows Vista.

Lawsuit Failed to Prove that Microsoft Received 'Unjust Enrichment'

Judge Marsha J. Pechman, of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, said Alvarado's argument was not valid because she purchased her computer from Lenovo, not Microsoft.

Judge Pechman also noted that Alvarado failed to prove that Microsoft had received 'unjust enrichment,' and that Microsoft was deceptive.

In her 9-page ruling (PDF), Judge Pechman wrote that the "Plaintiff alleges that she purchased a new computer with Vista and then downgraded to XP. Nowhere does she allege that she paid to downgrade or that she did not receive a copy of Vista when she freely chose to purchase her new computer with that software. That she chose to downgrade to XP without extra cost does not demonstrate that Microsoft retained a benefit without giving value. Nor does the fact that she chooses to use only one version nullify the fact that Microsoft gave her value for the bargain." (Source: seattlepi.com)

Judge Pechman went on to note that, if anything, it appears that Plaintiff obtained two versions of Microsoft's OS for the price of one.

While dealing with complaints over its Windows Vista OS, Microsoft offered a downgrade program through computer makers to retain customers.

Plaintiff Fails to State a Viable Claim

Alvarado alleged that Microsoft extended its downgrade program "likely due to the tremendous profits that Microsoft has reaped." (Source: seattlepi.com)

Judge Pechman shot down Alvarado's argument that Microsoft broke the Washington Consumer Protection Act by making people pay supra-competitive prices for the use its operating system.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the Seattle PI that they were pleased the court agreed that the Plaintiff's complaint failed to state a viable claim and dismissed it in its entirety.

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