‘Vista Capable’ change benefited Intel; Angered HP

A quick background on the Vista Capable suit against Microsoft. The suit claims that the labeling of computers as “Windows Vista Capable” misled consumers because many of the machines weren’t powerful enough to run all of Vista’s features, such as the Aero user interface. The scope of the class-action portion of the suit is if the “Vista Capable” labels artificially created demand for PCs in late 2006 during the holiday-shopping season.

As more emails were unsealed this week as part of the class-action Vista Capable lawsuit against Microsoft, it was revealed the original ‘Vista Capable’ requirements as drafted in December 2005 would have excluded Santa Clara based Intel’s 915 chipset. These chipsets would not meet the requirements to handle Vista’s advanced (Aero) graphics. Further Intel would not be able to meet the production demand due to the deadline being moved up by 3-months. After several email exchanges between Intel and Microsoft top brass, the requirements were loosened.

“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,” Intel executive Renee James wrote in an e-mail.

Microsoft’s Bob Aoki wrote to a colleague, “Intel told me this afternoon the revenue impact is #X billions and has already been raised to Paul O who is awaiting our response.”

The new requirements for Vista Capable meant that Intel’s 915 chipset would work, but only with Vista Basic. This also meant that Intel could continue selling these old-generation chipsets.

Meanwhile, HP had already invested in upgrading its systems to meet the original Vista Capable requirements. In an email to Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson and Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsoft’s platforms and services division from HP’s consumer PC unit:

If I were to be completely cynical about the course of events leading up to this, I’d suggest that my friends in Santa Clara slept well last night knowing they don’t have to worry that part of their line up, non compliant as it would have been based on WDDM requirement for 1/4, will be exposed to public scrutiny. I’m three months into this role and I hope this incident is not a foretaste of the relationship I will have (with) Microsoft going forward, but I can tell you it’s left a very bad taste with me and my team.

Not really sure why Microsoft had decided to make the Vista Capable requirement deadline 3-months earlier. It was not like Vista was going to be released earlier than expected. The original consumer release date was November 15, 2006 but that was pushed back to January 30, 2007.

I am reminded of a similar ‘labeling scheme’ employed by TV manufacturers in the 80’s and 90’s with labeling TVs as ‘Cable Ready’.  These TVs could tune-in the basic cable stations, but as cable systems grew and increased their channel offerings, most TV owners were required either obtain a VCR or a leased converter box in order to view these expanded channel offerings. Same thing here, a ‘Vista Capable’ PC would run Vista, but not necessarily the version you wanted.


1 Comment on ‘Vista Capable’ change benefited Intel; Angered HP

  1. Hi Guru!

    I got to confess…Arizona’s decision to remain on standard time is pretty brilliant. Don’t know why the independent-minded Texans haven’t figured it out yet either…

    Anyhow, wanted to say “good-job” on this non-FF post. There really hasn’t been much ongoing coverage of this topic once the initial furor died down.

    I have to confess, especially considering the rather hungry system RAM needs that Vista demands, that all the early “Vista” compatibility labels really was funny to see. Most folks only look at it from the consumer perspective, but as you wonderfully have captured, more than a few manufacturers also got bit in the process.

    What will be curious to watch is what lessons Microsoft has taken away from this experience. Particularly when it comes to the future release of Windows 7. I do think that the average home-user system will be much-more supportive and ready for Windows 7 hardware needs than they were for Vista. Vista has taught OEM builders to not skimp quite so much on system RAM. Couple that with the commonality of multi-core processors, SATA drives, and kernel performance enhancements with Windows 7, I think things will go quite a bit more smoothly.

    And despite all its differences, Windows 7 remains very similar to Vista I think the public will be much more accepting of it than they were of Vista.

    Anyway…like I said…nice diversion from the regular posts!


    –Claus V.

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