By all indications, Windows 7 will be met with a much warmer reception than Vista was at launch, and the Redmond company has already started certifying PCs as "compatible with Windows 7." The logo will appear on machines that "have passed Microsoft designed tests for compatibility and reliability with Windows 7," but can consumers really trust this to be true after the Vista-capable fiasco?
According to court documents, Microsoft bowed to pressure from Intel and lowered requirements for its Vista Capable stickers at the last minute so that the chip maker's 915 chipset could be included. Consumers balked when they found out that some machines bearing Vista's logo were only powerful enough to run Vista Home Basic, which had been stripped of many of the features found on other versions of Vista.
Rest assured, Microsoft seems to have learned its lesson and has no intention of repeating the same mistake. In order to qualify for a Windows 7 sticker, the PC or gadget in question must "work with all versions of Windows 7," and that includes 64-bit versions, not just 32-bit. So say you purchase a machine bearing the Windows 7 logo and later decide to upgrade from Windows 7 Starter 32-bit to Ultimate 64-bit, you'll be able to do so, according to Microsoft's certification requirements.
The software giant also says that logo'd machines are checked for common issues and are less likely to crash, hang, or reboot unexpectedly.
The “Vista Capable” lawsuit has been dragging on for some time now, but it appears a verdict may be fast approaching, and its bad news for Microsoft. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman released figures from the class-action suit which shows that the company stands to lose as much as $8.5 billion dollars. With such a large dollar figure swirling through the investment community, Microsoft instantly went on the defensive by issuing a statement claiming that the estimate is “over inflated”. They also assert that if damages are granted, they are unlikely to be anywhere near this amount.
The 8.5 billion dollar figure was calculated by a University Of Washington economist, and expert witness in the trial. To reach this number he determined the number of “Vista Upgradable” PCs that were sold in the US between April 2006 and January 2007. This essentially covers the period between the start of the marketing campaign and the release of the retail version of the OS. It was established that around 13.75 million laptops and 5.65 million desktop PC’s shipped with the “Vista Capable” designation, but did not live up to the “Premium Ready” requirements. The root of the plaintiff’s argument is that they were cheated as a result of not being able to use the Aero glass interface. As of July 2008 Microsoft had sold 180 million licenses for Vista, but only around 42 million of those were for the basic edition.
As PC enthusiasts we are suckers for OS eye candy, but does this case actually have merit? Your personal feelings on Vista notwithstanding, does the lack of Aero really cripple the rest of the OS enough to justify this kind of settlement?
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be forced to take the stand to defend his involvement in the “Vista Capable” marketing initiative which sparked a class action lawsuit back in February. The court has been selectively taking testimony from key Microsoft executives based on the contents of the 158 page bundle of internal emails that Judge Martha Peachman ordered unsealed. Specifically the court seems interested to learn of Ballmer’s involvement in giving Intel a pass on its underpowered integrated graphics hardware which turned out to be barely capable of booting Vista Basic. In one specific chain senior vice president Will Poole emailed Ballmer following a conversation with Intel CEO Paul Otellini stating:
“Steve, following up on the call you took from Paul today, we have changed our program so that Intel's current integrated parts qualify for 'Vista Capable' branding ... This change completely resolves their problem. “
In response Ballmer wrote:
“I thought they had other issues Certainly paul described other (non graphics) issues is this really resolved check back with her thanks”.
In the eyes of Judge Peachman this is sufficient acknowledgement of the issues to justify the need for a deposition. Ballmer has 30 days to schedule his three hour appearance, but he has yet to set a date. A Microsoft spokesman has responded to the press by stating, "We will of course comply with the court's order. Mr. Ballmer's knowledge about the Windows Vista Capable program comes from the executives he empowered to run the program and make decisions, and two of those executives already testified in this case." Many other spectacularly controversial quotes have come from the internal emails, including a VP of product management Microsoft employee who claims to have been “burnt” by the program. But Officially Microsoft defends the initiative and claims many of the emails and memos released have been taken out of context.
What are your opinions on the trial? Hit the jump and let us know.
According to a filing released Thursday, the Vista Capable program originally included support for the Windows Driver Display Model (WDDM) as part of the requirement for support of core Windows features. Although OEMs such as Dell, Sony, and Fujitsu all asked for waivers from the WDDM requirement for various computer models that used Intel chipsets with integrated graphics that could not run WDDM drivers, Microsoft refused all three companies' request for waivers because of the improvements in stability and features resulting from WDDM drivers.
However, when Intel came calling on Microsoft , it was a different story. After a series of email exchanges between Intel and Microsoft, Microsoft dropped the WDDM driver requirement, enabling Intel and its OEM partners to market systems with Intel 915 integrated graphics as being "Vista Capable" - even though their integrated graphics would never support Aero Glass or be supported by a WDDM driver.
To find out why some OEM vendors were pleased with Microsoft's relaxing of the WDDM rules, and some weren't, join us after the jump.