Emails from Microsoft managers show they feared Mac comparisons even before Vista launched

Microsoft is definitely feeling the heat as Apple gains momentum in the marketplace and sales of Mac systems climb to ever-higher levels. Apple's series of commercials with the "Hi I'm a Mac" introduction are familiar to most consumers and bothered Microsoft enough for it to start its own ad campaign to show most of the accusations in the Mac ads are stereotypes.

Emails have surfaced that were unsealed during the class action suit against Microsoft over allegedly misleading consumers with its Vista Capable marketing program. The email is from a time before Vista was on the street and Microsoft was advertising the coming Vista OS and trying to keep from hurting sales of Windows XP machines at the same time.

Computerworld reports that one of the interesting emails started with a column written by Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal titled “What PC to Buy if You Are Planning On a Vista Upgrade”. What raised the ire of some at Microsoft weren’t the hardware choices Mossberg made; rather it was one paragraph from the column that said, "You won't have to worry about Vista if you buy one of Apple Computer's Macintosh computers, which don't run Windows. Every mainstream consumer doing typical tasks should consider the Mac. Its operating system, called Tiger is better and more secure than Windows XP, and already contains most of the key features promised for Vista."

The paragraph caught the attention of Microsoft's Padmanand Warrier, a developer in the Windows group, and prompted him to send an email to other managers within the Windows group. Warrier added in the email quoting Mossberg, "A premium experience as defined by Walt = Apple…"

One of the recipients that the email was sent to was Richard Russell, a development manager within Microsoft who wrote back, "My takeaway from Walt's article is that we have failed to communicate Vista's value. [Windows has the ability to] run on a very wide-ranging set of systems from the minimally capable to the incredibly capable. Apple doesn't do that."

The email reply also touches on the source of the class action suit, the Vista Ready program. Russell said, "Vista Ready means that a PC will run Vista well -- it doesn't mean the users will get a 'premium' experience -- it never has meant that. There was some thinking and effort put into having a higher-tier Vista Ready logo, but this didn't fly with the OEMs. Also, if we spec Vista Ready too high, we will increase the already erroneous and popular perception that Vista is a pig with huge hardware requirements."

Russell spelled it out clearer when he wrote, "I think we have made a mistake in equating 'running Vista well' with a 'premium experience'. E.g., we haven't been successful in sending a 'good, better, best' message. Vista Ready == 'better.'"

The email exchange is among the reams of messages unsealed recently by U.S. district Court Judge Marsha Pechman as part of the class action proceedings.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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