Experts of the plaintiffs estimate damages of 19.4 million to upgrade "Vista Capable" PCs.
According to documents unveiled by a federal court, Microsoft would have to come up with as much as $8.5 billion to settle accounts with the customers affected by its 2006 "Vista Capable" marketing program.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman issued the figures from the class-action lawsuit. They declare Microsoft misled consumers with the "Vista Capable" campaign in the months leading up to the January 2007 release of the operating system.
That figure could be valuable if the U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman agrees with the plaintiffs and lets them use an alternative means of calculating damages to people who bought "Vista Capable" PCs. This could happen if, plaintiffs successfully argue that they were, indeed, deceived by the program.
On Wednesday, Microsoft dismissed the estimate in a filing of its own. It said it was "absurdly valued". Then added that if damages were granted it would be a "windfall to millions."
Keith Leffler, a University of Washington economics professor and expert witness for the plaintiffs who sues Microsoft in the "Vista Capable" class action suit, got the task of quantifying the influence of the "Vista Capable" program on PC prices and on Microsoft.
In a heavily-redacted report, Leffler states he had used data given by Microsoft. He also estimates the cost of upgrading the 19.4 million PCs which were sold as "Vista Capable" between April 2006 and January 2007 in order to meet minimum requirements for running premium versions of the operating system. Leffler put the cost of adding more RAM and graphics cards to these PCs in the range of $3.92 billion to $8.52 billion.
Leffler estimated that 13.75 million notebooks and 5.65 million desktop computers of those PCs were classified as "Vista Capable" . But they were not able to meet the more stringent requirements for the "Premium Ready" label.
Those numbers dwarfed the $1.5 billion that Leffler had earlier estimated Microsoft earned from the sale of PCs marked as "Vista Capable". Microsoft's lawyers might have been comparing the figures when they blasted the plaintiffs' call for upgrades. In papers filed Wednesday with Pechman, Microsoft said that plaintiffs seek a remedy that would give them a "Premium Ready" PC although they paid for a "non-Premium Ready" PC.