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Originally published Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Vista Capable suit is now class-action

A federal judge in Seattle certified a class-action lawsuit late Friday challenging Microsoft's "Vista Capable" marketing program as deceptive...

A federal judge in Seattle certified a class-action lawsuit late Friday challenging Microsoft's "Vista Capable" marketing program as deceptive.

The plaintiffs' complaint stems from a Microsoft program to prop up PC demand after the release of Windows Vista was delayed, missing the 2006 holidays — a key sales period for consumer PCs.

They alleged that PCs marked "Windows Vista Capable" could run only the "Basic" version of the operating system, not the "Premium" version, which they consider to be the "real" Vista, based on the company's marketing.

They also contend that an "Express Upgrade" program was deceptive because it provided only upgrades to Basic, not Premium.

Microsoft argued that its marketing delineated between machines that could run the Premium version and those that could not and that Vista Basic is an upgrade from its predecessor, Windows XP.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman certified a class of people who purchased "Windows Vista Capable" PCs that did not also bear the "Premium Ready" designation.

Microsoft said in a statement it is reviewing the ruling.

RealNetworks

Trymedia deal is announced

RealNetworks said Friday that it bought game-syndication company Trymedia from Macrovision. Terms weren't disclosed.

Trymedia helps Web portals, online retailers and game developers distribute personal-computer games over the Internet. The deal should close later this year, Seattle's RealNetworks said.

RealNetworks, which develops online games for Nintendo's Wii console, will use Trymedia's partnerships to extend its reach into the online video-game market, spokeswoman Audrey Craipain said.

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Nordstrom

$1.5M in bonuses for top executives

Nordstrom's top five executives will receive cash bonuses totaling nearly $1.5 million for their 2007 performance, the Seattle retailer disclosed Friday.

President Blake Nordstrom will get $377,860, while executive vice presidents Peter and Erik Nordstrom each will be paid $350,870. Chief Financial Officer Michael Koppel will receive $197,597, and Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Little will get $180,772.

Nordstrom's board of directors approved the bonuses Tuesday.

drugstore.com

Loss in N.J. court boosts loss on books

Bellevue-based online pharmacy drugstore.com said Friday it will record an additional loss of $2.5 million for 2007 after losing an appeal before the New Jersey Tax Court.

The company said it learned Tuesday of the court's decision upholding an assessment by the New Jersey Division of Taxation for $221,626, plus penalties of $11,081 and interest.

The division accused drugstore.com of not collecting and remitting sales taxes on sales made to customers in New Jersey during 2000 and 2001. The company said it did not believe it had to collect the taxes.

The company said it will record a pretax charge of $2.5 million, or 3 cents a share, for 2007. Its loss for the year rises to $11.51 million, or 12 cents a share, from a previously reported $9.01 million loss, or 9 cents a share.

The charge is its best estimate of its New Jersey tax liability for the 2000 and 2001 assessment, as well as for following years through 2007, drugstore.com said.

Alaska Air Group

Costs may soar 13% on higher fuel prices

Alaska Air Group said costs at Alaska Airlines will increase as much as 13 percent in the first quarter because of higher jet-fuel expenses.

Costs excluding regional flights will be 11.8 cents to 11.9 cents per available seat mile, the Seattle company said Friday in a regulatory filing.

Trade

Washington exports grew 25% last year

State exports hit a record last year, topping $66 billion.

Sales grew 25 percent over 2006 and nearly doubled over the past three years, according to statistics released Friday by the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.

The data was compiled by the World Institute for Strategic and Economic Research.

Nation/World

Bombardier

Board OKs plan for new jetliner

Bombardier won board approval to pitch airline customers on its new CSeries regional jet, advancing plans for a plane it had abandoned as recently as 2006.

Carrier commitments will be sought before a final decision to build the aircraft is made this year, the Montreal company said Friday in a statement. Bombardier is the world's third-largest maker of commercial planes.

The CSeries, carrying 110 to 130 people, would compete with Boeing's smallest planes. The 737-600 carries 110 to 130, and the better-selling 737-700 carries 125-150.

Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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