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Microsoft Faces Lawsuit Over Vista to XP Downgrade Fee

A Californian woman, who was charged $59.25 by Microsoft to downgrade from Windows Vista to XP when she purchased a Lenovo laptop, has filed a lawsuit against software giant Microsoft arguing that it violates antitrust rules.

Emma Alvarado, who purchased the laptop in June 2008 and chose Windows XP Professional over Vista Business, wants other users to join her up in a class action suit that could see Microsoft pay fines of several millions of dollars if successful.

Microsoft is being accused of "taking advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system" and charging people for downgrading to an older operating system.

However this is not always always the case; as it is the common practice for many OEM products, it is up to the end user to decide which operating system should go on his or her machine.

Dell and Lenovo charge an additional discretionary service fee for downgrading a PC; Microsoft does not normally benefit from any additional royalty but the lawsuit does mention that the downgrade structure makes it impossible to choose anything other than the most expensive Windows XP version.

Microsoft has made it simpler by offering both Windows Vista Business and XP Professional licenses, which allows the user to switch between OSes as long as only one of them is used at a time.

The current situation offers the possibility of further unrest if customers decide to switch from Windows 7 to Windows XP, although by the end of May 2009, Windows XP will no longer be available to OEMs.

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Our Comments

Let's see how this pans out. Microsoft has kept a low profile lately with regards to lawsuits. The European Union is already looking into getting Microsoft to unbundle its Browser, Internet Explorer to make way for more competition. Then there was the other Lawsuit over the Windows Vista capable fiasco which also involved Intel.

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