Microsoft tries to stop more ‘Vista-capable’ e-mails from going public

Microsoft is trying to put the kibosh on more of its internal (and embarassing) e-mail messages around its Vista marketing plans going public.

As Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Todd Bishop blogged on March 7, Microsoft is appealing the decision to turn the “Vista-capable” lawsuit lodged last year into a full-blown class-action case.

(The original suit, filed in March 2007, claimed Microsoft “engaged in bait and switch — assuring consumers they were purchasing ‘Vista Capable’ machines when, in fact, they could obtain only a stripped-down operating system lacking the functionality and features that Microsoft advertised as ‘Vista.’”)

As Bishop explains, Microsoft also is trying to halt the release of additional internal documents to the plaintiffs’ lawyers until Microsoft’s appeal is resolved. Microsoft is citing the time — and money — required to produce internal e-mails pertaining to the case as the reasons it is seeking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the publication of more Vista-marketing-related mail.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s lawyers don’t mention how much public-relations damage these e-mails is doing to Microsoft’s battle-weary Vista team.

The initial batch of e-mail in this case included messages from Microsoft board member Jon Shirley, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former Vista chief Jim Allchin and current Windows engineering chief Steven Sinofsky lambasting the convoluted “Vista-Ready” vs. “Vista-Capable” distinction Microsoft attempted to make when introducing the product over a year ago. Microsoft’s own troops couldn’t get their existing peripherals to work with Vista, as they noted in the batch of e-mail already released as part of this case. And then there’s the issue of the hoops Microsoft jumped through to help its Wintel ally Intel sell old hardware that was barely capable of running Vista. Not a pretty picture….

With every version of Windows, Microsoft has worked with hardware partners to find new ways to try to convince users they need more and more powerful machines to take advantage of more feature-rich software. If Microsoft and its partners were/are successful, it means more money in the PC makers’ and Microsoft’s coffers. With Vista, this pact really back-fired, as the already published e-mails around Vista-capable — and more, as-yet-unpublicized messages — will make evident.


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