Print 92 comment(s) - last by Ryanman.. on Apr 10 at 3:37 PM

The little sticker that is causing a world of trouble for Microsoft and Intel.  (Source: DailyTech)
Microsoft executive -- "We set ourselves up"

One of the most iconic images of Microsoft's Windows Vista launch in January 2007 was the small "Windows Vista Capable" stickers on computers months before, reassuring customers that when the new operating system came out, their computers could be updated to the latest and greatest.  Unfortunately for the consumer it appears that the capabilities that these stickers promised were intentionally exaggerated to benefit Microsoft and chipmaker Intel.

A class action suit filed against Microsoft in April 2007 accused Microsoft of intentionally misleading consumers with the stickers, claiming the "Vista Capable" logos on computers that were anything but.  The suit centered around several key points, among which was that the computers sold could not run Windows Vista's more impressive features such as the Aero user interface, and were left with only a bare-bones skeleton of Vista.  The suit forced Microsoft to redefine its definition of what exactly "Vista Capable" meant, which included Microsoft's addition of a disclaimer that some of the PCs bearing the sticker could not run significant Vista features such as Aero.

Meanwhile, the legal case proceeded forward.  Armed with internal emails obtained from Microsoft, the plaintiffs, represented by high-power attorney Jeffrey Tilden of Gordon Tilden Thomas & Cordell, took their case before a U.S. District Judge in order to gain class action status.  In a significant victory for the plaintiffs U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman granted the case class action status, with the primary focus being to determine whether Microsoft intentionally deceived consumers to sell PCs.  The judge also opened the door for the suit to also encompass gripes about the lack of Aero if the plaintiffs found another named plaintiff who bough Vista but was unable to run Aero.

Now in the aftermath of the ruling, the Judge Pechman unsealed 158 pages of Microsoft corporate emails (PDF) that paint a picture Microsoft would rather not have the public see.

Some of these emails featured Microsoft employees candidly describing the program with, "
Even a piece of junk will qualify" for "Vista Capable" designation.  The now famous email from Mike Nash, currently a corporate vice president for Windows product management, states, "I PERSONALLY got burnt ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine." 

Less dramatic, but equally damaging was the email from
Jim Allchin, then the co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, stating grimly, "We really botched this ... You guys have to do a better job with our customers."

The most interesting emails though, turn out to be the new ones.  While a number of key portions of several emails were redacted, the parts that remain paint a picture of intentional deception that Microsoft virtually admitted to in the internal emails.

In the emails Microsoft executives discuss how the Intel 915 Chipset was to initially be deemed incompatible Windows Vista.   The policy was abruptly reversed.  Says one of the executives in charge of the decision, "
In the end, we lowered the requirements to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded.  We are caving to Intel. We worked the last 18 months to drive the [user interface] experience and we are giving this up."

This admission is extremely significant as it precisely describes what was alleged by the class action suit.  Microsoft will have to fight an uphill battle to prove that its employees' email correspondence was inaccurate and misleading.

Other emails make it clear that retailers had voiced frustrations with Microsoft, and were met with stubborn resistance from Microsoft executives due to the policy, which aimed to underhandedly pump up Intel's chipset sales.  Says one Microsoft executive, guiltily, "
I was in Best Buy listening to people and can tell you this did not come clear to customers. We set ourselves up."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By mxnerd on 2/29/2008 2:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is Microsoft always cut the real hardware requirement in half.

memory minimum
Win95 8M
WIn98 16M
2000 32M
XP 64M
Vista 512M

Can anyone run the OS in these figures?
It's really kind of cheating and absolutely misleading.

Microsoft should beef up the figures at least 50%

By Orpheus333 on 2/29/2008 3:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
People already complain about the min. requirements when a new OS comes out. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

By DASQ on 2/29/2008 3:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
It'll either be "Ugh! That's too low! No way that could run good!" or "Ugh! That's too high! They're forcing me to upgrade unnecessarily!"

By mcnabney on 2/29/2008 3:26:48 PM , Rating: 2
I actually used a Win95 computer that only had 4MB of RAM back in the late 90's and early 00's. It ran Office, Acrobat, Crystal Reports, and a slew of lightweight custom apps that exchanged files with a remote server. It was freaky because it was amazingly stable, constantly changing apps, and was up for over a year continuously without a reboot.

By mindless1 on 2/29/2008 4:03:19 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, a decent system can be stable, but having done a lot of experimentation on system memory back in those days I also know it was slow as snot. In the late 90's I was doing professional audio editing, suffering with 64MB having to get up and get a cup of coffee waiting for a simple filter on a single track due to memory paging from so little memory. Today that's a roughly 4 second job.

By willykreim on 3/1/2008 9:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
"a Win95 computer that only had 4MB of RAM back in the late 90's and early 00's. It ran Office, Acrobat, Crystal Reports, and a slew of lightweight custom apps that exchanged files with a remote server. It was freaky because it was amazingly stable, constantly changing apps, and was up for over a year continuously without a reboot."

Bzzzt BS! everyone remembers the infamous bug that made Win 9x crash after 49.7 days of continuous use!.

After 49.7 days of continuous operation, your Windows-based computer may stop responding (hang).

By ajdavis on 3/2/2008 9:46:13 PM , Rating: 2
If you would have read the page you linked to you'd also see there was a fix. And if I remember correctly an air traffic control tower was shut down by this rather unfortunate bug.

By murphyslabrat on 3/2/2008 9:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
I admire your patience.

By taropie on 3/1/2008 2:01:09 AM , Rating: 2
I remembered when i had a copy of XP RC2 i was able to run it rather smoothly on my only pc. That was a Pentium MMX 233 with 64mb ram. Was a tad slower than 98 but still runs everything fine.

By ShadowZERO on 3/1/2008 6:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
I did run Win95 on an 8mb system and upgrade said system to 16mb when I got Win98. It wasn't Ideal, but probably a lot better than XP at 64mb.

By marvdmartian on 3/3/2008 11:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. They did the same thing with XP, and I've seen some machines that might have run 98 or ME just fine, but bogged down trying to run XP........especially after the owner loaded it up with 2 tons of crap in the quick launch area (which, of course, ties up lots of resources).

Typical system I saw: Compaq computer running a 1.3GHz cpu and (get this) 512mb of PC133 ram. Wow. While it might have been capable of running XP, it certainly wasn't designed to run it well, especially with a quick launch area filled with ~20 icons!

Like I advise people looking to buy a computer, especially from Dell (where you can choose between XP & Vista). If you're running XP, 1GB of ram is fine. If you're opting for Vista, load that machine up with at least 2GB, or you'll later wish you had!

By johnsonx on 3/18/2008 1:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
Minimums are just that: MINIMUM. All of those OS's will in fact function with those amounts of memory (and even less). I know I've seen Win2000 running suprisingly well in 24Mb of RAM (not as a general use machine though, but as a dedicated CNC mill controller)

If anything, Microsoft has gotten a little better about that with Vista - I'd say Vista runs alot better in 512Mb than XP does in 64Mb. A 64Mb XP machine is essentially unusable, while a 512Mb Vista machine works fine - a little slower than it would be with 1Gb, but completely usuable. I've found 192Mb is the practical minimum for XP; enough to boot the OS and load a single app without swapping.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki