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Judge orders Ballmer to testify in Vista suit

Microsoft's CEO faces a three-hour deposition in next 30 days in a class action lawsuit over the "Vista Capable" logo program.

A judge on Friday ruled that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will have to testify in a class action suit over the "Vista Capable" logo program that Microsoft ran ahead of the launch of Windows Vista.

Microsoft had sought to limit depositions in the case to former Windows executives Jim Allchin and Will Poole, both of whom have since left the company. However, the judge ruled against the software maker.

"The court appreciates that there are severe demands on Mr. Ballmer's time; however, a busy schedule cannot 'shield' an executive from discovery," Judge Marsha J. Pechman said in her ruling, which was posted on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Web site.

The plaintiffs in the case have argued that Microsoft was misleading in labeling certain machines as Vista Capable even though they lacked the graphics power to run the operating system's more advanced features.

Ballmer will have to be deposed for no more than three hours some time within the next 30 days, Pechman ruled.

Already, the suit has proven to be a treasure trove of internal documents.