Intel backstabs Microsoft by abandoning Vista

The news that Intel has decided it won't upgrade its PCs to Vista must be especially bitter for Microsoft because court documents show that Microsoft may have launched its ill-fated "junk PC" Vista scheme at the behest of Intel. Is this the kind of payback that Microsoft expected?

According to the New York Times, Intel has decided that it won't upgrade the PCs of its 80,000 computers to Windows Vista. The Times reports:

the company made its decision after a lengthy analysis by its internal technology staff of the costs and potential benefits of moving to Windows Vista, which has drawn fire from many customers as a buggy, bloated program that requires costly hardware upgrades to run smoothly.

Microsoft has good reason to feel bitter about the decision. As I've reported in my blog, Microsoft's "Vista Capable PC" scheme may have been launched specifically to help Intel meet its quarterly earnings by selling older Intel chipsets that couldn't properly run Vista.

A refresher for those who might not remember the "Vista Capable PC" scheme: It was a marketing scheme in which people claim that Microsoft misled consumers into buying the Windows Vista Capable PCs, even though the PCs couldn't run the most important features of Vista.

According to court documents released in a suit related to the scheme, Microsoft's John Kalkman sent an email to Scott Di Valerio, who was in charge of the company's relations with PC makers, noting that the Vista Capable PC scheme was being launched on behalf of Intel:

In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded. This in turn did two things: 1. Decreased focus of OEMs planning and shipping higher end graphics for Vista-ready programs and 2. Reduced the focus by IHV's to ready great WHQL [Windows Hardware Quality Labs] qualified graphics drivers. We can see this today with Intel's inability to ship a compelling full featured 945 graphics driver for Windows Vista.

Kalkman makes clear in the email that it was a mistake to try and bail out Intel:

...it was a mistake on our part to change the original graphics requirements. This created confusion in the industry on how important the visual aspects of visual computing would play as a feature set to new Windows Vista upgraders.

So Microsoft went out on a limb to bail out Intel, and this is the payback it gets? They're not doubt talking about back-stabbing at Redmond these days.

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