Microsoft's 'Vista Capable' changes outraged HP, insider e-mails show

By helping Intel, Microsoft 'severely damaged' its credibility with HP, exec said

According to the separate plaintiffs' motion filed last Thursday -- which included numerous citations of internal e-mails but did not always quote them in their entirety or attribute them to an individual -- HP spent nearly US$7 million on the technology to make its machines meet the original Vista Capable requirements.

"Now we have a situation where PC manufacturers (and processor/chipset suppliers) can claim Vista Capable in a 'good' mode just because it will run," Walker continued. "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.'"

Walker went on to tell Johnson and Allchin that Microsoft's credibility at his HP group had been "severely damaged" because Microsoft had "change[d] the rules at the last minute" without notifying HP.

Allchin fired off a blistering e-mail to his boss, Steve Ballmer, within 10 minutes of Walker sending his message. "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," he wrote to Ballmer.

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

In other messages, Allchin had called the decision to allow computers powered by Intel's 915 chipset to qualify for the Vista Capable program as "misleading customers." Allchin, who worked 17 years for Microsoft, retired the day Vista was released in late January, 2007.

Ballmer denied having any part in the decision to loosen the rules for Vista Capable by ditching the WDDM requirement, and instead put the responsibility on Poole's shoulders. "I had nothing to do with this," Ballmer said in a reply to Allchin later in the day on Feb. 1, 2006. "Will [Poole] handled everything. I received a message that paul was goignt o [sic] call. Will said he would handle it. Paul called. I had not even had a chance to report his issues when Will told me he had solved them. (it did not sound like he had) I am not even in the details of the issues," Ballmer said.

"You better get will under control," Ballmer concluded.

Although the plaintiffs have asked to depose Ballmer, Microsoft has tried to block the demand. In a filing last month, Ballmer said he had no "unique knowledge of, nor did I have any unique involvement in any decisions regarding the Windows Vista Capable program."

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