Much has been made over Windows Vista’s pokey performance. Now, though, a new series of lawsuits suggests the time Vista takes to load could actually cost you cash.

A University of Cincinnati law professor’s blog talks about a growing trend of employees suing their bosses over their computer startup and shutdown times. The hourly workers say they should be paid for the minutes wasted waiting for their operating systems to boot up at the beginning of the day and close down at the end.

Numerous companies have faced such suits over the past months, the story notes, ranging from AT&T to UnitedHealth Group. The employees say they’re spending 15 to 30 minutes a day sitting, waiting, and losing out on time they should be getting paid.

The blog quotes a National Law Journal article that claims computer boot time should be not be counted as work. An attorney in the story rationalizes that “most employees boot the computer, then engage in nonwork activities.”

“They go have a smoke, talk to friends, get coffee. They’re not working, and all they’ve done at that point is press a button to power up their computer, or enter in a keyword,” he says.

Well, sure — what else are they supposed to do while their slow OS is starting up? Would sitting there and staring at the screen be a more appropriate and productive activity?

The fact of the matter is that people get to work at a particular time and should be paid accordingly. The reality that they have to wait six minutes for their system to be ready isn’t their fault.

Where this’ll get interesting is if the employee lawsuits win, then the companies in turn sue Microsoft for creating the slow operating system and causing the problem.

Of course, Windows 7 is going to fix all of that, right?

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