Intel’s big shot at Microsoft

When Vista was released, there was a half hearted attempt to sell it’s ‘basic’ edition to pc makers for machines that did not quite cut the mustard graphically, memory wise or processor wise.  These tended to be lower end machines and mostly powered by Intel chipset—older chipset’s that were either being discontinued or on the verge of being discontinued like the 915 graphics chipset.  Intel, according to papers released via a court battle, apparently convinced Microsoft to change it’s minimum requirements so Intel could sell more of these older chipset’s.  The program was called ‘Vista Capable’ and meant that the machine shipped with Windows XP and had a coupon good for a copy of Windows Vista Basic and, in a few cases, Windows Home Premium.  Microsoft was sued over this program. Through the course of the discovery phase, many emails were made public that implied that middle and upper level Microsoft employees/management were burned themselves by this program.  The problem was that these chipset’s were either inadequate or barely adequate for Aero under Home Premium (Basic does not do all of the Aero effects.)  Essentially, Microsoft went out on a limb to help Intel sell more chips and up it’s bottom line.  In the process, they alienate customers, release a product that did not have adequate support at launch from device makers who were slow to release drivers for devices-old or new-get sued, and, worse, damage relationships with certain partners like AMD/ATI who had taken the time to write Vista drivers for some of their product line.  Today, the device driver picture is much better since the penetration of Vista is also better.

Fast forward a year and Intel drives a golden spike right through Microsoft’s heart by announcing that the company is not going to upgrade it’s 80,000+ desktops to Vista.  That’s gotta really sting at Microsoft.  Here they go out on a limb to help out Intel and Intel repays them this way.  Pretty sad.  I have to wonder how much of the decision was influenced by Apple.  I’m not blaming Apple, but I do wonder if there was any influence there, especially given Apple and Intel’s new love for each other.

I think Microsoft will think twice about doing something like this again.  I have to wonder if maybe they will do something for AMD next time.  Maybe make Windows run better on AMD chips…probably not, but it will be interesting to see how they handle Intel going forward.

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