Hey, it looks I'm trying to write a letter that's going to come out later in a lawsuit. Should I use some grammar in that?
Newly-released emails in the Microsoft 'Vista capable' lawsuit not only demonstrate that Microsoft managed to piss off HP as well as Dell with its confused approach, but that people who are running busy companies don't have time for full stops.
We've written before about the ongoing mess that is the Vista Capable lawsuit, and with the speed that these things progress through the courts, Windows 7 will probably be out before the whole issue gets resolved. Microsoft has already made it clear that it wants to avoid similar hardware dramas with the next version of Windows, though that will heavily depend on exactly when the Windows 7 release date falls.
In the latest court documents, filed late last week, the big picture detail to emerge is that HP was deeply, deeply annoyed when it discovered that Microsoft was planning to relax the requirements for getting a Vista-capable logo. In 2005, Microsoft had said that machines labelled 'Vista capable' would have to have strong graphics capabilities to deliver its enhanced Aero interface. However, Microsoft changed its mind after it became clear that many machines on the market couldn't match that specification, and after Intel complained that it would not be able to shift large existing quantities of its 915 graphics chipset.
From HP's point of view, the original restrictions were a plus, as it would scare off bargain basement PC vendors, as consumer PC head Richard Walker made clear in February 2006: "We find it disappointing and troubling that you would make such a decision without consulting HP, your biggest global partner . . . The decision you have made and communicated has taken away an investment we made consciously for competitive advantage knowing that some players would choose not to make the same level of investment as we did in supporting your program requirements. Now we have a situation where PC manufacturers (and processor/chipset suppliers) can claim Vista capable in a 'good' mode just because it will run. What kind of consumer assurance is that? Hardly one that puts any credence behind your desire to create 'the best possible customer experience for the Windows Vista upgrade'."
When Walker's email was forwarded to Microsoft platform chief Jim Allchin, he hit the roof in virtual terms, and was quick to complain to CEO Steve Ballmer. "I am beyond being upset. This was totally mismanaged by Intel and Microsoft. What a mess. Now we have an upset partner, Microsoft destroyed credibility, as well as my own credibility shot to pieces."
Allchin suggests that the problems began because Ballmer agreed to a request from Intel CEO Paul Otellini to relax the Aero requirements. Perhaps the most revealing moment in the new emails is when Ballmer dives in to disclaim any responsibility for the decision, saying another MS executive, Will Poole, was responsible:
Quite frankly, this reads more like an MSN chat transcript than a CEO trying to resolve a potentially major partner crisis. Memo to Steve:
- Full stops can make it much easier to read sentences.
- Please avoid meaningless phrases like "I am not even in the detail of the issues".
- Outlook has had a spelling and grammar checking facility for some time; using it more often might be sensible. After all, you never know when internal email might end up in a court document these days.