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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."

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By TerranMagistrate on 2/29/2008 2:42:39 PM , Rating: 0
Here's a good reason right here.

By PWNettle on 2/29/2008 3:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
I like MS just fine. I don't like how they price Vista because I think it's robbery.

I also happen to have a clue and can read so I know what requirements relate to the various versions of Vista. When I see some cheeseball walmart special PC that's 'Vista ready' I just laugh, because I know it'll barely run the home version. Most of those computers would barely run XP, too - they surely wouldn't run XP to my liking.

Some people act like MS is the only company to ever exaggerate or overly hype their products. It happens in all aspects of marketing and advertising for all products. Some consumers fall for it - some have a clue. Stupid people are taken advantage of by marketing and advertising all day long.

Why single out MS?

By INeedCache on 2/29/2008 5:47:30 PM , Rating: 2
When you are on top, everyone is after you. It has also become trendy to crack on Microsoft. A lot of complaining about Vista comes from people who know nothing about computers and aren't making any effort to learn. It would not take much of a search to find out that Vista (other than Basic) needs 2GB of RAM to run decently. Yet computer manufacturers continue to sell machines with Home Premium and only 1GB of RAM, people buy them and find out it crawls, then they complain about Vista and Microsoft. I wonder why more people don't do a little homework before spending so much money? I research any purchase I make that costs more than about $20.

By dav115 on 3/1/2008 5:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
So true - Only the other day I was on the bus and overheard a conversation about a recently out of warranty laptop, that from what I gathered from the conversation, was not POSTing. One of the people involved in the conversation suddenly took pride in telling his gullible friends that "Windows do it on purpose so that you have to buy a new computer every time the warranty runs out. You should get an Apple". The fact that this person doesn't know the difference between a brand name (Windows) and a multi billionaire company (Microsoft) just shows how much they know about computers...

By stmok on 3/1/2008 11:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
When you are on top, everyone is after you.

Not quite true.

The real issue, is how you got to the top.

When you step-on, deceive, manipulate, lobby, etc on your way to the top, you will have compromised something very important.

That is, your reputation.

Its no different if you were a multi-billion dollar company, a Hollywood actor/actress, a professional sports man/woman, etc.

Reputation is everything. If you consistently do something good, even in harsh times, people will pre-judge you as been a good person to be with. (If you're a company, they'll remain loyal even if you occasionally stuff up).

But if you continually mess up and manipulate perception (make yourself look as if you're a good guy through marketing), its a bit hard for someone to like you. Your honesty and integrity is questioned.

That's how it is. So if you ever want to reach the top, respect and treat others how you want them to treat you. Earn your reputation through integrity. You'll see your statement doesn't apply.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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