In the latest twist in the long-running suit over Microsoft's "Vista capable" marketing program, a judge on Wednesday decided the matter no longer qualified as a class action suit.
According to the ruling, a copy of which is posted on TechFlash, the judge ruled that each PC buyer has to bring his or her own legal action in order to seek damages from Microsoft.
"Absent evidence of class-wide price inflation, Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that common questions predominate over individual considerations," Judge Marsha Pechman wrote in the ruling.
Although Pechman declined to dismiss the suit entirely, the ruling is a big win for Microsoft, which could have faced a huge verdict in the case.
Microsoft, in a statement, seemed pretty pleased.
"We're pleased that the court granted our motion to decertify the class, leaving only the claims of six individuals," Microsoft said. "We look forward to presenting our case to the jury, should the plaintiffs elect to pursue their individual claims."
In addition to limiting potential monetary damages, the move could also mean less airing of Microsoft's dirty laundry. The case has been a treasure trove of documents to date, including a number of juicy e-mails.
The dispute centers on whether Microsoft was being deceptive when it labeled PCs as "Vista capable" even though it knew they would never be able to run the operating system's more advanced features, such as its Aero user interface. (It's an issue I raised back in March 2006, when the program was first announced.)
The "Vista capable" stickers were used on Windows XP systems sold in the run-up to Vista, which had its mainstream launch in January 2007.