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Vista-Capable lawsuit reveals how Microsoft's shenanigans angered HP

by Parm Mann on 18 November 2008, 13:35

Tags: Windows Vista, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

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Microsoft may have quickly shifted its focus to Windows 7, but the problematic Windows Vista is still providing the occasional niggle.

An ongoing class-action lawsuit - in which customers have accused Microsoft of deception by labelling inadequate 2006 computer systems as "Vista Capable" - has now resulted in a series of internal documents being made available to a District Court in Seattle.

Among those very documents are a series of e-mails between Microsoft and HP that reveal how the software giant managed to leave "a very bad taste" in the mouth of one of its biggest partners.

It's a fittingly-bloated investigation, but the important details are as follows:

Long before the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft made its partners aware of the minimum system specifications required to apply a "Vista Capable" logo.

All seemed swell until a last minute change. Shortly before the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft took a u-turn and scrapped the requirement that insisted graphics in a Vista-Capable PC should use the Windows Device Driver Model (WDDM). By doing so, it allowed systems featuring Intel's ageing 910 and 915 graphics chipsets to be labelled as Vista Capable.

Intel, of course, was ecstatic and CEO Paul Otellini even sent a thank you message to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. Intel was happy, but Microsoft faced a slew of angered partners, including Hewlett Packard.

On February 1st 2006, senior vice president of HP's consumer PC business unit, Richard Walker, e-mailed Microsoft's Jim Allchin and said:

The decision you have made has taken away an investment we made consciously for competitive advantage knowing that some players would choose not to make the same level of investment as we did in supporting your program requirements.

Now we have a situation where PC manufacturers (and processor/chip set suppliers) can claim Vista Capable in a 'good' mode just because it will run. What kind of consumer assurance is that? Hardly one that puts any credence behind your desire to create the 'best possible customer experience for the Windows Vista Upgrade.

I can't be more clear than to say you not only let us down by reneging on your commitment to stand behind the WDDM requirement, you have demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to HP as a strategic partner and cost us a lot of money in the process. Your credibility is severely damaged in my organization.

According to HP, it suffered a loss of around $7m as a result of Microsoft's last minute change. It had invested heavily in upgrading its hardware to support Windows Vista's launch, only to find the upgrades were ultimately no longer a requirement.

Microsoft's Allchin, however, appeared to be unaware of current events and promptly e-mailed Ballmer with the following:

I am beyond being upset here. This was totally mismanaged by Intel and Microsoft. What a mess.

Now we have an upset partner, Microsoft destroyed credibility, as well as my own credibility shot. I was away and I get back to see this mess.

I was told all this started with a call between you and Paul (Otellini, Intel CEO). I will have to get to the bottom of this and understand how we could be so insensitive in handing the situation.

Ballmer has since denied being involved in lowering Vista Capable requirements, but it evidently wasn't enough to appease Allchin - he retired the day Windows Vista launched.

HP's anger has come to the forefront, but there must have been a long list of upset partners prior to Windows Vista's 2007 debut. Microsoft will do well to eat large chunks of humble pie when dealing with partners for Windows 7.

HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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That is totally disgusting thing for Microsoft to do but its not a suprise. They are so big that they can do anything they want and in the end complaints are just words, HP still spends money with Microsoft and that all Microsoft cares about. HP are big enought to suck up that $7million but what about other, smaller firms?

I wish we had all backed OS2 when it was around, maybe things would have been a little different.
Zero surprise from me. Intels gfx have sucked for ages. Promised drivers never appeared. Features claimed to be brought in but the hardware could never physically support it.

I'd never buy an intel card/laptop for gaming.

I am currently patiently waiting for a 4850 in a laptop for my gaming. I will not touch nvidia till they sort their act out.

If you read the specs for Vista you KNEW that it was not going to be possible for Intel chipsets to do Aero.

Am glad that Jim did take a stand against it. Shame it wasnt better publicised maybe MS might have been slapped about it.

If they wriggle out of this one without further scantions then the DOJ might as well be retired as a toothless dog.

MS is a proven monopoly. Either fix it or just let them carry on and dont even bother “investigating”. It just embarresses the world with the complete farce of the legal system.
As pointed out above, this scenario is inevitable whilst MS holds a monopoly over the market. HP can moan above what MS have done, but with no real competition HP have zero leverage.
As pointed out above, this scenario is inevitable whilst MS holds a monopoly over the market. HP can moan above what MS have done, but with no real competition HP have zero leverage.
There's plenty of competition. That isn't the problem, the problem is people. And people are ignorant, stupid, and unaware of the competition.
A less-publicized but equally important issue between Microsoft and HP on Vista was HP's decision, and Microsoft and Intel's complicity, in allowing HP to install Vista 64 on systems not capable of using more than 3GB of RAM, defeating the most attractive feature of Vista 64. I purchased one of the earliest DV9000 series HP laptops (a DV9330CA) with Vista Ultimate 64 as the preload, only to discover after the fact that the included Intel PM945 chipset was incapable of handling 4GB of RAM.

I am a longtime Microsoft Partner, and never imagined (silly me) that Microsoft would allow a 64-bit OS to be installed onto a board designed only for 32-bit. Add to that the fact that the system totally failed during a correctly-done Vista SP1 installation, that Microsoft's senior SP1 supervisor in Redmond promised to send me OEM Vista 64 software to try and rebuild the OS without destroying all the related data after days of conversations with SP1 support, and then did not. The Service Pack 1 installation also helped cause the dreaded NVidia GPU failure (a GeForce 7600) and I am now on motherboard #3 after #2 failed almost immediately after install with the same problem.

HP's answer has been “we never told you the system could take more than 2GB of RAM”. How totally, utterly absurd on all their parts, and shame on them all. And class-action suits have already, or are about to be filed, against HP, NVidia, Microsoft and Intel. And with good reason.