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

I dont get it!!
By steve1014 on 3/2/2008 5:29:44 PM , Rating: 1
Stop acting like MS did some great injustice to everyone. Try reading up before you upgrade. It says "Vista Capable" not "Vista Proficient" or "Excellent Machine for Vista." Did they lie? No. Is it a little sneaky? Maybe, but if you wanted to have a machine that ran everything Vista offered then you should have looked up info before purchasing it. I think this is ridiculous especially since the only thing I've heard people complain their "Vista Capable" computers couldn't do is run Aero. And they weren't advertised as "Aero Capable" In fact as someone mentioned earlier in these posts; all the "Vista Capable" machines above "Vista Capable" say "Designed for XP." To me it sounds like they are saying this machine is made to run XP but if you want you could put Vista on here and keep it running.

As for all the Mac people on here who love to blast MS for being the devil. Look at your precious Apple and how they rip off consumers everyday. Next time you get a moment go to Apple's website and look at what they charge for 4GB of memory in a MacBook Pro. (I'll save you some time $800) they too are criminal and they feed on the ignorance of the masses who don't know enough to understand that Macs have problems too. I work at a computer support desk at a university and everytime a student walks up with a broken Mac and says "but I thought they never have any problems," I just want to slap Steve Jobs.

RE: I dont get it!!
By wallijonn on 3/3/2008 12:57:53 PM , Rating: 2
Try reading up before you upgrade. It says "Vista Capable" not "Vista Proficient" or "Excellent Machine for Vista."

"Vista Capable" is the only marketing term used. Marketing did not create "Vista Basic" and "Vista Ultimate" stickers any more than they created "Will barely run any better than XP" and "Much Much Better Than XP" stickers. Your comment is therefore relegated to hyperbole.

RE: I dont get it!!
By steve1014 on 3/3/2008 1:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad you caught on to the fact that the statement was an obvious exaggeration.

However, they have no duty to ensure that consumers will be well versed. The purpose of my comment was to express that the statement "Vista Capable" is not lie. The machines were vista capable they just weren't designmed for vista. In fact if you look at the picture at the top of the article it demonstrates my exact point: THE STICKER SAYS "DESIGNED FOR XP!"
I work on computers for a bunch of spoiled kids everyday and I have yet to see a "Vista Capable" machine that would not run Vista. It may not run every feature but if you want something designed for Vista don't buy a computer that says "Designed for XP"

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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