While many PC enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Windows 7 so they can ditch Vista and XP, Microsoft is still wrestling with issues from the launch of its last operating system.
The company is still under legal scrutiny as it battles a class-action lawsuit surrounding its “Windows Vista Capable” branding that it placed on new PCs sold with Windows XP. The idea behind the label was that consumers could be confident in purchasing a new PC before the launch of Vista and not be worried that his or her computer wouldn’t be able to run the upcoming operating system.
Problems came when Vista launched and owners of supposed “Vista Capable” machines suddenly found themselves able to run the new OS at a bare minimum, but without the immediately apparent new coat of UI shine called “Aero Glass.” This upset customers who felt that they were mislead into thinking that even their budget computers could run the best of what Vista had to offer, when really Vista Home Basic (without all the UI bells and whistles) would be as good as it would get.
On the surface, one might assume that Microsoft ran into some bad luck and gave the customer too much credit when it came to realistic expectations, but documents unsealed in the ongoing legal process show that the company was forewarned about the use of the Vista brand on the Home Basic edition.
While Home Basic was Vista at its core, it’s something that the consumer might not easily see. For that reason, the Windows Product Management Group recommended in August 2005 that Home Basic should "carry the Windows brand name without the Vista generation name," reported the Seattle P-I.
The Group continued that having Home Basic sans the Vista brand would "better align user product expectations to the high visibility innovations uniquely present in the Windows Vista premium versions." This could have potentially saved Microsoft from the class-action lawsuit it presently faces, but would have completely changed the “Vista Capable” requirements.
Microsoft did provide a good argument in its white paper declaration (PDF hosted on the P-I) for why Home Basic should be called Vista, which seems to also make sense since it is just a low-end variant of Vista: "The White Paper gives a more balanced assessment than Plaintiffs portray. It expressed concern that removing the Windows Vista name from Windows Vista Home Basic could create 'customer confusion' because customers might think 'a new PC with Home Basic did not come with the latest [operating system]' when in fact it did.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft will change its strategy for the sales transition from Vista to Windows 7.