The Vista fiasco, continued

| February 28, 2008

In case you’re not aware, Microsoft is being sued for allegedly setting misleading levels of hardware compatibility for “Vista Capable” computers. In other words, the suit claims that Microsoft knowingly set low levels of Vista-compatibility for hardware, even though many of the computer models so designated would not be able to run anything above Vista Home Basic.

Well, with lawsuits, you have discovery (where each side has to produce, under court order, relevant documents and other information), and the discovery in this lawsuit is proving to be quite interesting. Todd Bishop, at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has been running a blog about Microsoft. He’s been covering the lawsuit, and he’s now published the text of various internal Microsoft e-mails regarding Vista — and they aren’t pretty. For example, here’s an e-mail from Stephen Sinofsky to Steve Ballmer:

People who rely on using all the features of their hardware (like Jon’s Nikon scanner) will not see availability for some time, if ever, depending on the mfg. The built-in drivers never have all the features but do work. For example, I could print with [my] Brother printer and use it as a stand-alone fax. But network setup, scanning, print to fax must come from Brother.

The Vista Ready logo program required drivers available on 1/30. I think we had had reasonable coverage, but quality was uneven as I experienced.

Intel has the biggest challenge. Their “945” chipset which is the baseline Vista set “barely” works right now and is very broadly used. The “915” chipset which is not Aero capable is in a huge number of laptops and was tagged as “Vista Capable” but not Vista Premium. I don’t know if this was a good call. But these function but will never be great. Even a 945 set has new builds of drivers coming out constantly but hopes are on the next chipset rather than this one.

And this from the (since-departed) head of Windows Development, Jim Allchin (referring to adjustments as to what should be designated “Vista Capable”):

We really botched this. I was not involved in the decision process and I will support it because I trust you thinking through the logic.

BUT, you guys have to do a better job with our customers than what was shown here.

This was especially true because you guys put me out on a limb making a commitment. This is not ok.

Read the whole thing, particularly some of the embedded links (such as the PDF of an extensive internal e-mail exchange). Hat tip to Preston Gralla at Computerworld. ..bruce w..

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Category: Information Technology, Legal, Main, Pitfalls, Project Management

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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