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Microsoft Sued for XP Downgrade Fees

Microsoft has faced several legal complaints regarding its Windows Vista operating system, and another one has been added to the mix.

Emma Alvarado of Los Angeles County filed in federal district court in Seattle a complaint against Microsoft because she was charged a fee to downgrade from Windows Vista to XP.

Alvarado claims that she bought a Lenovo PC that was preloaded with Windows Vista, but in order to have Windows XP on it, she had to pay $59.25 for the downgrade.

"Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers preinstalled with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to 'downgrade' to the Windows XP operating system," the suit alleges, according to the InternetNews.

Microsoft had originally planned to discontinue distribution of Windows XP mid-2008, but due to consumer demand, the last-generation operating system is still available for OEMs who see fit to offer it. Alvarado alleges that Microsoft extended its XP cutoff date because of the “tremendous profits” the company is raking in from the downgrades.

The charge does seem to vary between different PC vendors, leading us to believe that any “tremendous profits” to be had from offering Windows XP upgrades don’t entirely go to Microsoft. Late last year, Dell tripled its Windows XP downgrade fee to $150.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • mistaken
    The way our Dell rep explained it was that there was not charge from Microsoft for the down grade (if we bought xp-pro equivalent of vista) but Dell was tacking on the surcharge to the lower end for having to reformat the machine from vista back to XP before sending it out to us.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes. I personally think the only money Microsoft is seeing is the difference between the home basic and what it takes to get the higher level of vista that is qualified for the down grade
    Reply
  • roofus
    So this person thinks that even though this Lenovo computer SKU has Vista as part of the factory configuration, Microsoft should provide a product license for free because of preference? I see this going nowhere.. Will I would hope not anyways.
    Reply
  • TwoDigital
    I've seen that charge too... it sounds like they're suing the wrong people if they really want their money back.

    Of course... I'll be willing to bet that they aren't suing Microsoft for their $59.25 + legal fees. They're probably suing Microsoft (again, the WRONG party) for $20 million + whatever putative damages the attorneys want to put into their pockets. Gotta love the U.S. frivolous lawsuit bandwagon.
    Reply
  • AndrewMD
    The problem with the average consumer is their ignorance of how things work. Windows XP (Home) or Windows XP (Professional) are two different market segmented softwares. When you add Vista Basic, Home Premimum, Business, Ultimate, etc there is cost difference associated with it.

    Now as for what companies charge to downgrade to Windows XP that is completely in their right. Companies spend lots of money to retrofit their assembly lines towards the next product. The same thing goes for any manufacturing company.

    If you want an older model car fresh from the factory, it will need to be hand built, which means someone needs to be paid for that time. Someone at Dell, Lenovo, etc needs to pull that computer off the assembly line and format the hard disk drive, manually install Windows XP and install all of the latest drivers and patches. This takes time and money.

    People need to just use what is installed on the off the shelf computer or seek out a custom PC shop local in the town to have one built for them. Then they won't be charged a downgrade fee.

    Reply
  • AndrewMD
    The problem with the average consumer is their ignorance of how things work. Windows XP (Home) or Windows XP (Professional) are two different market segmented softwares. When you add Vista Basic, Home Premimum, Business, Ultimate, etc there is cost difference associated with it.

    Now as for what companies charge to downgrade to Windows XP that is completely in their right. Companies spend lots of money to retrofit their assembly lines towards the next product. The same thing goes for any manufacturing company.

    If you want an older model car fresh from the factory, it will need to be hand built, which means someone needs to be paid for that time. Someone at Dell, Lenovo, etc needs to pull that computer off the assembly line and format the hard disk drive, manually install Windows XP and install all of the latest drivers and patches. This takes time and money.

    People need to just use what is installed on the off the shelf computer or seek out a custom PC shop local in the town to have one built for them. Then they won't be charged a downgrade fee.

    Reply
  • bourgeoisdude
    Not enough information here for us to know. What version of XP was she downgrading to and what version of Vista came on the machine?

    I know for a fact that Dell does not charge for a downgrade, but if the PC comes with Vista Home or Vista Home Premium and you "downgrade" to XP Professional, there is a cost involved. If the Lenovo PC came with Vista Business and she is downgrading to XP Professional, then there is an issue, but it isn't Microsoft's issue, it's Lenovo's.
    Reply
  • ag3nt smith
    If she didn't want Vista why did she buy a computer with it? Vista is a perfectly fine software after SP1. She is suing the wrong people and I somewhat wish Microsoft would counter sue Ms Emma for the time invested for this crap charge.

    Everyone is out to get some money from any way possible because of the current economy, however she has sued the wrong company and she needs to be forced with a Vista computer, and take the initiative to LEARN and be OPEN MINDED instead of COMPLAIN like many of us do. I agree with Andrew's post 100% the way. She deserved the charge and if shes gonna sue Microsoft for this; Microsoft should charge her with taking up usage of time.
    Reply
  • seboj
    This is how you spell f-r-i-v-o-l-o-u-s.
    Reply
  • tayb
    So... this idiot, oh excuse me, lady thinks that despite PURCHASING a license for Vista through Lenovo she thinks she is ENTITLED to a license of XP as well just because she doesn't like Vista? I was not aware of the Vista/XP bundle that Microsoft was selling...

    I am sure it will get better once I see the claim numbers. $20 million for the $60 fee and another $50 million for emotional damages that will take years of therapy to overcome.

    I would say that something is wrong with the courts that keep allowing these things but isn't their fault. It is the PEOPLE'S fault. Too many people think they are entitled to things they aren't. Same reason our economy is in a shithole. Every couple thinks they DESERVE a house despite not being able to afford one only to find out 7 years later that they couldn't actually afford it.
    Reply
  • As a service manager at a computer store, I see a lot of people wanting their system's downgraded.

    It takes quite a bit of time to downgrade systems, and I do charge a fee for our time in doing so. Most take 2-4 hours to downgrade. The really bad ones are when you have to run the Vista install FIRST, then downgrade to xp, you are doing twice the work in those cases.
    Reply