Microsoft downgraded Vista Capable specs to help Intel

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Microsoft downgraded Vista Capable specs to help Intel

Numerous emails exchanged by Microsoft and Intel executives have revealed that Microsoft knowingly cut its 'Vista Capable' PC specifications to help Intel flog rafts of cheap kit.

The email evidence surfaced in a plaintiffs' court filing (PDF) that was unsealed Thursday in the continuing 'Vista Capable' consumer class action lawsuit.

Computers built using Intel's 915 series chipsets didn't qualify for the 'Vista Capable' label under the Vole's initial set of PC specifications for the promotional programme set forth in December 2005, because the 915 chipsets couldn't handle Vista's coolest graphics interface.

After Microsoft pushed up its projected kickoff date for the 'Vista Capable' programme by three months, Intel's executives objected because Chipzilla couldn't ramp up production of its newer, high-end graphics chipsets fast enough to meet anticipated demand.

Intel executive Renee James wrote, "While I do not want to discuss volume and $$ on email, it is material to our business, and we do not understand Microsoft's motivation to change the previously agreed upon date."

Microsoft soon realised that its principal partner in the Wintel hegemony had a problem.

Bob Aoki emailed to a coworker, "Intel told me this afternoon the revenue impact is #X billions and has already been raised to Paul O who is awaiting our response."

Rajesh Srinivasan calculated how much Intel might lose by not having its 915 chipsets in PCs that were labeled 'Vista Capable', writing that "potential costs could get into billions."

To underscore Intel's high level of concern, Intel's James wrote in a later email that Intel CEO Paul Otellini "doesn't understand why the date changed and we don't accept it is just 'labels on boxes'."

Another court filing (PDF) reveals that Otellini even called Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to complain.

Microsoft executives evidently heard Intel's severe objections and took action accordingly, relaxing the 'Vista Capable' PC specifications to include PCs built with Intel's 915 chipsets.

Intel executives were evidently thrilled to learn that Microsoft made that little adjustment. Otellini penned a note to Ballmer "thanking him for listening and making these changes."

Not all Microsoft executives agreed with such a cooperative accommodation of the Vole's major PC hardware partner, however.

Jim Allchin, Microsoft's co-president of platform products and services at the time, wrote, "I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable program. OEMs will say a machine is Capable and customers will believe that it will run all the core Vista features." He concluded, "We must avoid confusion. It is wrong for customers."

Allchin was right, of course, which is why Microsoft is being sued. The lawsuit continues.

Link: Seattle PI

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