Days after it was revealed by a senior Microsoft executive that the software vendor had made a mistake by underestimating the minimum technical requirements needed to run Windows Vista the company has dropped the price of the underperforming software.
It is now expected that Microsoft will cut the price in Australia during the next few days. In the US, Microsoft will reduce prices for Windows Vista Ultimate to $319 from $399 and cut the price for an “upgrade” version to $219 from $259.
The poor performance of Windows Vista emerged from internal e-mails disclosed in a US court last week.
Microsoft certified Intel’s 915 chip set as capable of running Vista, even though the e-mails reveal some Microsoft executives were warning that the chipset wasn’t capable of properly displaying Vista’s graphics features.
The e-mails, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, emerged in a federal class-action suit by consumers alleging that Microsoft’s marketing program for Windows Vista misled them into buying unsuitable PCs. They provide an insight into how Microsoft executives and partners grappled with technical glitches as they prepared the delayed Vista for market.
In several e-mails, Microsoft executives tell Microsoft COO Kevin Turner how a branding program implied that certain PCs were technically capable of running Windows Vista operating system when, in fact, they weren’t.
In the messages, Microsoft executives admitted Intel’s 915 chip set for PC graphics couldn’t handle some Vista features including the Aero graphics system. However, Microsoft agreed to have a “Windows Vista Capable” sticker slapped on 915-based PCs bought in 2006, saying they could run the operating system, which went on sale early last year.
The alleged smoking gun was when Microsoft GM John Kalkman admitted “a mistake on our part to change the original graphics requirements. In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with 915 graphics embedded.”
In a statement released outside the court, Intel spokesman Chuck Malloy said “John Kalkman has zero visibility into Intel’s financials, financial forecasting or any financial situation as it relates to Intel’s motherboards or any other product we sell.”
Another complaint a year earlier had Microsoft’s senior director Mike Ybarra complaining: “We are caving to Intel . . . allowing Intel to drive our consumer experience.” Redmond has confirmed the authenticity of the e-mails, but denies it did anything wrong, saying: “The emails reflect part of an active discussion about how best to implement the Windows Vista Capable program.”
After portions of the e-mails were read aloud, District Court Judge Marsha Pechman gave the go-ahead to plaintiffs to bring their class-action lawsuit against Microsoft.