Windows

What Microsoft was willing to do for "Wintel"

February was not Microsoft's best month. Between issues with the long-awaited Vista SP1 to the class-action suit that has prompted the release of multiple internal e-mails and memos, Microsoft is ready to get to the next thing. However, Vista customers may have some issues that Microsoft will have to address.

The last week of February was a tough one for Microsoft. The long-awaited Vista SP1 ran into issues. In some cases, the update necessary to facilitate the service pack caused some users to experience multiple reboots. In other cases, the service pack was delivered early to some. And finally, it was determined that SP1 could reduce functionality of some programs -- many of them security programs. To finish a difficult week, Judge Marsha Pechman enabled a class-action suit against Microsoft over “Vista Capable” OEM logoing.

The authorization of Judge Pechman resulted in the release of some 300 documents by Microsoft that detail how the determination was made to downgrade the requirements to logo a PC as Vista Capable and introduce the “Vista Ready” logo.

While the logos seem similar, they are not. In fact, they speak to an element of the hardware that the average consumer is not familiar with. Beginning with the language, Vista Capable means that the hardware is capable of running Vista. However, it is only capable of running Vista Home Basic. Vista Ready means that the hardware is ready to run Vista of any flavor. But the difference goes deeper.

It begins with the Intel chipset. In Feb 2006, the chipset in bargain notebooks was the 915. Unfortunately, the 915 chipset cannot provide the graphics power necessary to power Aero Glass. Intel voiced concern to Microsoft that it would not be able to supply the certified 945 chipset in sufficient numbers to qualify enough PCs for the Vista Ready logo. Microsoft’s response was to certify the 915 chipset, knowing that it would not be able to deliver the entire Vista experience.

While there were many problems with this solution, the main issue seemed to be that the average consumer did not understand the difference between Vista Capable and Vista Ready. This resulted in issues for the OEMs and for retailers.

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

In a Feb. 23 2006 e-mail, Robin Leonard, a Microsoft employee, wrote that Wal-Mart is "extremely disappointed in the fact that the standards were lowered and feel like customer confusion will ensue. They would like to see Microsoft reconsider the program and allow for the use of 2 different logos; one that is strictly a Windows Vista Home Basic Capable, and the other Windows Vista Capable."

She continued, "Please give this some consideration; it would be a lot less costly to do the right thing for the customer than to spend dollars on the back end trying to fix the problem."

A day later, Leonard wrote that Wal-Mart had gone directly to Hewlett Packard and asked the company to "try and affect their production lines for the Spring assortment as much as possible and pull the logo from the base unit."

In response, on Feb. 27, Steve Schiro, a Microsoft corporate vice president, home and retail division, wrote that "this feedback has been consistent from all retailers around the world."

From the New York Times:

Last-minute changes to Windows Vista broke drivers, forcing key hardware vendors to "limp out with issues" when the OS launched last year, according to a presentation by Dell Corp. that was made public this week.

"Late OS code changes broke drivers and applications, forcing key commodities to miss launch or limp out with issues," said one slide in a Dell presentation dated March 25, 2007, about two months after Vista's launch at retail and availability on new PCs.

The criticism was just one of many under the heading "What did not go well?" Others ranged from knocks against Vista's Windows Anytime Upgrade scheme, an in-place upgrade option, to several slams on "Windows Vista Capable," the marketing program that targeted PC buyers shopping for machines in the months leading up to Vista's debut.

The resulting problems from the decision to use a dual logoing scheme impacted more than the average consumer.

From the Mercury News:

But one dissatisfied customer was Microsoft's own Windows Product Management Vice President Mike Nash, who wrote this e-mail message to colleagues: "I personally got burned by the Intel 915 chipset issue on a laptop. I chose my laptop because it had the Vista logo and was pretty disappointed. I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."

I questioned both IT professionals and average users. Some have no idea what is important in a computer, many aren’t certain what the importance of the OS is, and some are so tired of the upgrade process that they refuse to play-- only upgrading when a new computer purchase requires it.

We have heard from a number of people who have had no problems with the upgrade to Vista. To all of those people, I can only say, “I am so glad that it’s working well for you!” We also hear from many who have had issues.

It doesn't matter if you love or hate Microsoft. I don’t know that one’s personal allegiance is the issue here. The real issue, as I see it, is whether or not Microsoft has done something actionable under the law. Its choices may have been ill-advised, but should it be sued? Has it done something so far out of reason that there is a wrong to redress? Judge Pechman thinks that there are questions that should be fairly addressed -- enough to believe that the class has merit.

I also have to wonder if there is culpability on Intel’s part. Do we have enough information to know that it has some culpability in this? Should the plaintiffs expand the defendant table?

More information:

Microsoft combined with Intel for a Vista logo disaster (InformationWeek)

Wintel Vista conspiracy screws customers: Another win for Apple? (ZDNet)

19 comments
mikifin
mikifin

I am moving as I write to a Microsuck Winblows free environment and all future purchases will be guided by this incident. Both Microsoft and Intel have stepped over the bounds and consumers should make them pay dearly for this or these companies will not learn their lesson.

raynebc
raynebc

I don't know very much about the issue, but I don't see too much to blame Intel for for this. It was Microsoft's decision to market Vista this way, Intel just makes the hardware. Intel may have made good cash on this, but they make cash with every Intel motherboard and processor sold anyways.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If the email being publicised are correct then Intel pushed MS to certify their older chip set for Vista knowing that the older chip set could not push Vista's full graphics. I believe that's what makes both MS and Intel responsible but it's for a court to decided.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It'll be a heck of a show to watch in the media. Thanks for the clarification.

Tig2
Tig2

But the court needs to determine if Microsoft is wholly responsible for the final decision as Intel does not own the logo determination.

Tig2
Tig2

Would be if there was direct evidence that they did more than ask Microsoft to logo pcs with the 915 chipset. That is essentially the issue. From what I read in the released documents, there is not currently that evidence. We can only assume that Microsoft made the decision independently.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'll have to look for it after I finish building my ikloo else I won't be protected from the polar bears, flying 'ockey pucks, while I eat my bakon and beers.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

hoser. :) (kehehehee.. ah.. I amuse me greatly tonight)

seanferd
seanferd

Darn those Canadians with their, "We're so far North" attitude.

seanferd
seanferd

in ensuring their "partners" only buy from them. Totally unrelated to this, though.

armstrongb
armstrongb

Aren't you sick and tired of overpaying for maple syrup and back bacon? And now this! It's a conspiracy I tells ya... Cheers!

dawgit
dawgit

There are also problems with other Grafic Chip Sets as well. Also, the problems don't end with the "eye candy type programs. In fact we still don't know just what all will, or won't work. That is the problem. IMHO, of course. -d

seanferd
seanferd

Now I finally understand what was up with chipsets vs logos in the days before actual sales. Thank you very much. (I would also like to thank you for starting threads for your own blogs. Not everyone does.) I still wonder why, since there *were* multiple logos, the more informative logos were not used. I suspect the answer lies in the title of the article.

Tig2
Tig2

Exactly. Regardless of complaints from OEMs and retailers, Microsoft chose and stuck to the logos that were used. I do believe that the class will have an opportunity to invite Microsoft's attention to their error. I consider starting the thread a part of writing the blog. If I can't speak to the topic, why should you? But I will also take your input on this and communicate it to other bloggers. They may simply may not know that this is something that y'all want.

seanferd
seanferd

This is sort of copied from a prior post at ZDNET, with edits (wow, did their look change!). My issue was, again, what happened to the original logo-ing system? Designed for windows 2000 Professional/ Windows NT Workstation 4.0/ Windows 98 Designed for Microsoft Windows 98 Designed for Microsoft Windows 95 Notice the change in wording? capable v premium ready http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/capable.mspx It's fairly clear here, but I think MS overestimates website traffic from prospective PC buyers. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/hardwarereqs.mspx Windows Vista Feature-Specific Requirements Fairly clear here also, but what happened to these labels?: http://winqual.microsoft.com/hcl/default.aspx Notice under "systems": Windows Vista, and Windows Vista Basic. [(NOTE: the site immediately above requires the use of IE6 or above only. Sorry for the inconvenience.)Also, some pages seem to require the XP OS or above, and the page with all the logos on it is "temporarily unavailable" at this time. I am hoping I saved it somewhere...] edit to add: As far as starting the thread goes, some bloggers may be more likely to get a reaction from those of us to lazy to go through the procedure, and they would also have control of the tags.

Tig2
Tig2

From evidence made available in the last week of February, Microsoft appears to have made business decisions that were based solely on maintaining their relationship with Intel. But those choices may have been to the detriment of their customers. Seattle judge, Marsha Pechman, seems to think that there is merit to exploring the value of the "Vista Capable" appellation to consumer thinking. What, exactly, did the average consumer think they were purchasing when they bought a "Vista Capable" machine at the end of 2006? What are your thoughts on reading the information that drove these decisions? What would you have done differently?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...I'm sure that next time, the hardware vendors and retailers will put up more resistence, since they unwittingly ended up taking a chunk of the heat in the name of saving Microsoft's relationship with Intel. There's little question of it now; the "capable" vs "ready" labeling was indeed meant to deceive.

zefficace
zefficace

And some said I was just a typical lawyer... Like I have said, MS knows and wants the ignorant and/or stupid market, and now seems to hope to maintain the ignorance with odd, confusing language, for it's own economical interests... OH surprise, OH dismay... but don't sue them, they did nothing wrong... eh MS fanboys! Just so you know, I don't hate windows, I use it at the office and it does the job quite well(linux at home). I don't like the willing innocents who are happy in their ignorance, nor do I like MS for taking advantage. But no social entity should be allowed to behave as MS has with this campaing, even if the village idiots are there for a reason.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I think it's almost ingenious the difference between "capable" and "ready". I never bothered to notice there even were 2 different logos! Apparently the alliance between Microsoft and Intel has more importance. to Microsoft than their customers. Just a thought. I think that Microsoft needs to just get rid of "Home Basic". It is kind of odd, that if you "upgrade" from XP to Home Basic, you just took a big step down. I'm wondering if Home Basic was just created in order to have a Vista for the i915 chipset? I'd laugh my backside off if in the class action lawsuit, Microsoft winds up owing everyone a copy of Ultimate for the plaintiffs, and Intel has to get them an i945 chipset computer!

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