Microsoft’s Vista Capable marketing program could cost the company billions, according to an economist’s estimate released by the US District court judge hearing the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft. It's interesting to note, however, that the estimated $8.5 billion Microsoft might pay to plaintiffs is dwarfed by the nearly $100 billion Microsoft has earned from Windows Vista.

The lawsuit came about because of Microsoft’s practice of certifying PCs as “Vista Capable PCs” when the PCs were capable of running only the barebones Windows Vista Home Basic, which lacks the more well-known features of the premium Vista versions. Microsoft contests the estimate, saying that the amount it would cost to settle plaintiffs’ claims would cost less. A breakdown of the cost, and an analysis of the marketing campaign, is available at ITWorld

Had the plaintiffs read a particular Windows IT Pro article during the time of that marketing campaign, they would have known not to take Microsoft’s word about Vista Capable. Paul Thurrott laid it out pretty clearly in “What You Need to Know About Windows Vista System Requirements." Just sayin’…