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Windows Update has Detected the Following Lawsuits are Available for Your PC

Cancel, or Cancel?

Well, the Windows Vista-Capable class action lawsuit has taken another pretty interesting turn, with the plaintiffs lawyers having requested that Microsoft use it's own Windows Update service to notify potential class members of the suit.

The Vista Capable lawsuit accuses Microsoft of duping buyers in 2006 and 2007 by letting PC makers slap a "Vista Capable" sticker on PCs when it allegedly knew that many of those systems would only be able to run Vista Home Basic, the entry-level version. The case, which began in 2007 and was granted class-action status in February 2008, claims that Home Basic is not representative of the Vista that Microsoft marketed to consumers.

Earlier this month, the plaintiffs in the Vista Capable case asked U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman to make Microsoft use the update service to send all Windows users a notice of the class-action lawsuit. The notice, which would pop-up on users' screens, would include a link to a site where consumers could obtain more information.


Not surprisingly, Microsoft is not too keen on this idea, and says that it would not be possible for them to properly identify which Vista machines are qualified to be considered class members, and force them to essentially spam millions of uninvolved PC owners. Microsoft also decries the potential confusion and outrage that such a repurposing of the Windows Update features could cause - with the possibilities of users disabling automatic updates in revolt, or flooding the Microsoft help desk with questions or complaints.

Now, I find it hard to believe that Windows Update is incapable of identifying, with a fairly good level of granularity, potential class member PCs by identifying the operating system version and chipset - otherwise how does the system identify which patches are apropos to your system? Even if, using these criteria, some unrelated Vista PCs are incorrectly identified, I don't think it would be the 120 million that they have claimed. Can anyone imagine, if the system were so obtuse, the havoc that would be wrought by a mis-applied update intended for Vista Premium with a particular Nvidia video card but was instead applied to all systems running Vista, regardless of version and hardware?

But, perhaps surprisingly, I agree with Microsoft that the Windows Update service should not be compelled to be used outside of its scope - if it is true that Microsoft has not in the past used this service for any informational or promotional purpose (I don't use Windows so I don't know). If the sole purpose of Windows Update is to provide patches and security updates, it should not be within the purview of the plaintiffs to change this arrangement between Microsoft and their customers - even the ones who could be potential litigants, in my opinion.

Security updates, and customer relationships in general, require a certain amount of trust - any actions by Microsoft outside of their espoused purpose for the Windows Update service will indeed negatively impact their perception amongst customers and might even cause the feared backlash of users disabling the service out of concerns that Microsoft could once again make changes to their terms of service at a later date and begin targeting PC owners with self-serving "informational" and advertising notifications.

Anyway, this is just my two cents and all I usually am offered is a penny for my thoughts - perhaps that's why I am so quiet usually, every time I open my mouth I lose money...

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