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Microsoft Vista problems, Microsoft HP dispute, class actions suit Microsoft
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An exterior view of Hewlett-Packard Co.
in Palo Alto, Calif.

HP’s Angry E-mails Enter Microsoft Vista Lawsuit

November 18, 2008 04:13 PM
by Josh Katz
Irate e-mails from Hewlett-Packard executives over Microsoft’s Windows Vista are just one aspect of a class-action suit against alleged Microsoft deception.

E-mails Reveal HP–Microsoft Row

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Recently released e-mails from the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft highlight the acrimony between Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard over the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system. In the e-mails, HP executives argue that Microsoft lowered the requirements for Vista hardware in order to help Intel meet its earning goals—at the expense of HP.

According to the e-mails, in early 2006 Microsoft lowered the standard for “Vista Capable” PCs so that Intel’s older 915 graphics chips could qualify, according to InformationWeek. Intel benefited from the decision because it would not have been able to meet the original Vista requirements, but HP had already invested heavily in meeting the new standards and producing different technology that could function with Vista’s Aero interface. Vista first entered the market in 2007.

“I can’t be more clear than to say you not only let us down by reneging on your commitment to stand behind the [device driver model] requirement, you have demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to HP as a strategic partner and cost us a lot of money in the process,” said an e-mail from Richard Walker, the senior vice president of HP’s consumer business unit, to Jim Allchin and Kevin Johnson of Microsoft.

InternetNews.com writes: “In short, consumers confronted with the choice of buying a more expensive HP that had the Vista Capable sticker or a less expensive PC from a competitor with the same sticker would be mislead into thinking the two systems were equivalent—graphically speaking.”
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has denied any culpability relating to the decision to lower the requirements. He insists that Will Poole, who had served as senior vice president in the marketing division, was responsible for the move, according to Computerworld.

Microsoft also allegedly funneled $7 million to help with HPs marketing efforts in order to make up for the $6.8 million that HP said the new technology for Vista cost them, according to the plaintiffs in the case, InternetNews.com reports.

The recent revelations are the latest in a class action suit that involves PC customers who accuse Microsoft of misleading marketing to indicate that certain computers were Vista-compatible when in fact they were not. Microsoft claims that its marketing practices were not deceptive because it differentiated PCs that could run on a basic version of Vista and those that could function on a premium version, The Seattle Times reports.

The trial is slated to begin on April 13, 2009, having been delayed from an original October 2008 starting date, according to InternetNews.com.

Related Topic: Microsoft hopes new products will not go the way of Vista

Midori will eventually replace Windows as Microsoft’s new operating system. “Building Midori from the ground up to be connected underscores how much computing has changed since Microsoft’s engineers first designed Windows; there was no Internet as we understand it today, the PC was the user’s sole device and concurrency was a research topic,” wrote David Worthington in Software Development Times.

But first, a new version of Windows is set to launch next year, and there are concerns that Microsoft’s future endeavors will not meet expectations. Peter Bright at Ars Technica said that whatever the company’s operating system plans are, “Microsoft cannot let the problems that plagued the development of Windows Vista recur.”

Microsoft has struggled with Vista, which followed the Windows XP operating system by more than five years. For the first quarter of the 2009 financial year, “Microsoft’s client revenue—most of it which comes from sales of Vista—grew a mere 2 per cent,” according to India's Business Standard. Sales prospects look dim for the Christmas season as well. “Customers in developing countries are more likely to buy PCs with cheaper, basic versions of Vista installed,” writes Business Standard. Furthermore, users have experienced problems with the Vista operating system that takes up substantial memory.

Microsoft attempted to combat Vista’s muddied image with this summer’s “Mohave Experiment,” in which participants rated their opinions of a new operating system called Mohave. According to Microsoft, the participants gave much better marks to Mohave than to Vista, even though Mohave was, in fact, Vista.
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