Intel blamed for Vista Capable antics

Written by Tim Smalley

February 29, 2008 // 10:08 a.m.

Tags: #antics #blame #capable #case #display #driver #intel #lawsuit #microsoft #model #pressure #shenanigans #vista #wddm #windows

Internal Microsoft emails used by plaintiffs as evidence in the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit have revealed that the software giant caved into pressure from Intel to enable its 915 series integrated graphics chipsets to run Windows Vista.

What’s significant about this is that before this decision, Microsoft had been adamant that, in order for a system to support Windows Vista, its graphics processor had to support the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM)—a specification that Intel’s 915 graphics chipset didn’t conform to.

John Kalkman, a Microsoft executive, wrote in an email chain dated 26th February 2007, “In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with 915 graphics embedded.

This was in the same chain that Mike Nash, a vice president in the Windows Product Management Group, pointed out that he had been burned by the Vista Capable programme. “

I personally got burned by the Intel 915 chipset issue on a laptop that I PERSONALLY [bought],” Nash wrote. “I know that I chose my laptop (a Sony TX770P) because it had the Vista logo and was pretty disappointed that it not only wouldn’t run Glass, but more importantly wouldn’t run Movie Maker. . . . I now have a $2100 email machine.

Microsoft employee Mike Ybarra protested against the decision in an email to Jim Allchin. “Jim, I am passionate about this and believe this decision is a mistake. We are caving to Intel. We worked hard the last 18 months to drive the UI experience and we are giving this up. The OEMs are behind us here, we have the support we need to drive this experience on today's hardware. . . . We are allowing Intel to drive our customer experience.

Allchin acknowledged his concerns, stating that he wasn’t involved and that it was too late to reverse the decision, “It might be a mistake. I wasn’t involved and it is hard for me to step in now and reverse everything again.

The emails suggest that Intel leaked the change of specification to its partners a day ahead of official notification of the changes from Microsoft. This probably had something to do with one statement from Will Poole in the email exchange; “[Intel is] losing orders every day, so we need to get a simple communication out ASAP.

Whatever the case, this doesn’t look good for either Intel and Microsoft because, based on what’s in the emails, the decision to change the requirements for Vista support was for financial gain. On one front, the programme was designed to bolster Windows XP sales, and on the other hand, the change in requirements was to steady declining Intel 915 chipset sales. The change of heart was a complete u-turn on Microsoft’s push for a fully 3D user interface in all versions of Windows Vista and, as Ybarra put it, the software giant essentially allowed Intel to drive the Windows Vista customer experience.

As the days roll on, this case gets just gets more and more interesting. Share your thoughts on these revelations in the forums.
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