An expert has determined that Microsoft may have earned more than US$1 billion from its controversial Windows Vista Capable sticker program, which is still at the center of a class-action suit being decided in a Washington state court.
In a court report, Keith Leffler, an associate professor in the University of Washington's Department of Economics, estimated that Microsoft derived revenue of $1.505 billion from its Vista Capable program, in which the company partnered with hardware vendors to put stickers on PCs letting customers know the machines could run Vista reliably.
Though portions of Leffler's statement were redacted, it appears he based his estimate on revenue figures he received from Microsoft. His statement was made public as part of a class-action lawsuit filed March 2007 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle by Washington resident Dianne L. Kelley. She claimed that Microsoft's program was deceptive because a PC she purchased could not run a premium edition of Vista. The case is still pending.
A month later, Microsoft launched a Web site to explain the hardware requirements for different versions of Vista, as well as a new PC designation called "Windows Vista Premium Ready." Microsoft used the new designation to label PCs that could run premium editions of Vista -- such as Home Premium and Ultimate -- which have more features than Home Basic. The company also provided coupons for people who purchased these PCs to upgrade to the appropriate version of Vista either for free or for little cost once the OS was made available.
Many see Vista ultimately as a failure for Microsoft, as many consumers have complained about the OS and many business customers have opted to skip it and run Windows XP until Vista's follow-up release Windows 7 is available. This is all in spite of the fact that Microsoft spent more than five years developing Vista and claimed it would be the most successful OS for the company since Windows 95.