Even Microsoft admits that Windows Vista Home Basic is the poor cousin of Home Premium, and the Vista edition most people would want to avoid. But that didn’t stop the software giant permitting PC and laptop makers to slap a Vista-capable sticker on systems that could only support the slightly hobbled version of Vista, and now it’s in hot water following a lawsuit in the US.

We’ve been banging the drum about the benefits of Vista Home Premium ever since the various editions of Vista were first announced. Unlike Home Basic, it includes features such as the flashy 3D Aero interface and Media Center capabilities. Aside from new search facilities and a couple of security advances, Vista Home Basic doesn’t offer much more than Windows XP.

And so anyone who bought a low-spec laptop towards the end of last year on the basis that their shiny new system was 'Vista-capable' may have been duped. While readers of PC Advisor will have known the minimum requirements to run Home Premium, you can’t expect most of the shoppers in PC World on a Saturday afternoon to even be aware there are different versions of Vista, let alone what the differences are. Retailers and Microsoft have made a fairly good effort at placing educational material in store and online – but not everyone would see the significance of the message in the marketing material. Many people may have only paid attention to the all-promising Windows Vista-capable sticker.

We were sent a number of systems last year that promised Vista compatibility, but failed to support Home Premium. Have you or any of your friends and family been caught out? If so, let us know here, or visit our Windows Vista forum.