US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman late Thursday has released figures which reveal that Microsoft could be responsible for as much as $8.5 billion in damages for its allegedly misleading Vista Capable program from mid-2006 to early 2007. Testimony from an expert witness as well as a University of Washington economist determines that enough PCs were sold as upgradable from XP to Vista during the period that Microsoft theoretically owes between $3.92 billion and $8.52 billion for the costs needed to upgrade these PCs to Windows Vista Home Premium or better.
At the heart of a suit is an accusation that many of the PCs factored into the damages were given the Vista Capable logo despite lacking the graphics chipset or other hardware necessary to run all of the features in more advanced Vista versions, such as the Aero Glass interface.
Microsoft has publicly denied any attempts to mislead the public and already claims the damage values are exaggerated beyond what would be granted if the plaintiffs won the case.
However, internal Microsoft e-mail published by the court shows Microsoft as having bowed to repeated requests by Intel to certify a low-end mainboard chipset as Vista-capable despite Microsoft objections both before and after the certification took place. Intel chief Paul Otellini is believed to have met his Microsoft counterpart Steve Ballmer as part of this pressure and would thus suggest knowledge of the plan at the company's highest level.