Microsoft group suggested dropping 'Vista' from Home Basic

Internal discussion over name showed concern over 'user expectations' in '05

In any case, Microsoft said it's allowed to decide what it calls its products, whether and how it creates separate editions of a piece of software and what price to charge. "The law gives Microsoft the right to define its software products, to license its software in different editions, to determine what features each edition will include, and to charge more for premium features," the company said.

That's the same right car companies have when they roll out multiple models in a line, and charge different prices for different feature sets. "Nor does any principle suggest that Toyota may not 'fairly' call its entry-level Camry a 'Camry' -- even if the ads show the luxury edition," Microsoft argued.

Tomorrow, Pechman will hear oral arguments from both sides in the case before deciding whether to grant a pair of motions that Microsoft made in November when it asked her to end the class-action lawsuit.

The case has been notable for the embarrassing insider e-mails that have showed how the company bent to pressure from Intel Corp. over the program's hardware requirements, and infuriated longtime partner Hewlett-Packard at the same time. Almost a year ago, other internal e-mails showed that even top-level executives were confused and frustrated by Vista soon after its 2007 release.

The lawsuit was originally filed in April 2007, and granted class-action status in February 2008. It is currently set for an April trial.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

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