Microsoft dissed Intel's 915 chip set before making 'Vista Capable' changes

Intel 'years behind the curve,' Microsoft exec said in '05, insider e-mails show

Months before it bowed to pressure from Intel and relaxed the requirements for its "Vista Capable" marketing program, Microsoft published an article on its TechNet Web site recommending that users avoid Intel's 915 graphics chipset if they planned on upgrading to Windows Vista, internal e-mails at Microsoft show.

The article, posted in late July 2005, raised hackles at Intel, and led to exchanges between Microsoft executives during which one accused Intel of deliberately misleading users about the 915 chipset and its ability to handle Vista advanced graphics.

Composed by an outside writer, the TechNet article -- which was quickly yanked from the site -- sparked a story on the "X-bit Labs" site headlined "Microsoft Advices sic to Avoid Integrated Graphics Cores for Windows Vista" that included several quotations from the original.

One quote quickly got Intel's attention. "Boy you guys really made some friends over here," Intel's Marty Johnson wrote on August 5, 2005 to a pair of Microsoft managers in the Windows group, Ty Carlson and Rajesh Srinivasan. Johnson then cited another bit from the TechNet article. "Excerpt from Windows Vista web site: 'Exactly which chipsets will end up fully supported is still open at this point, but specifying the higher end of the chipset choices from NVIDIA or ATI is probably indicative of the range -- and more concrete information should be available at a later date.'"

Later that same day, Carlson e-mailed Will Poole and Chris Jones, senior-level executives who at the time were responsible for development of the client version of Vista. Nearly six months later, Poole would be the one who called the shots during the dustup over Vista Capable that resulted in Microsoft loosening the rules for which graphics sets qualified for the program.

"I just want to give you a heads-up of a potential escalation in bound from Intel," Carlson said. In Microsoft's terminology, "escalation" meant that the matter would be bumped up the corporate ladder for discussion. Carlson cited the offending TechNet article and the Xbit Labs' follow-up, then continued: "Intel is obviously not happy as they have teams slaving to get their mobile integrated WDDM completed for Beta 2. I have called Intel and explained the situation and that we are working to pull the article."

WDDM referred to Windows Device Driver Model, the name for the new driver architecture set to debut with Vista and -- until January 2007 -- a critical requirement for inclusion in the Vista Capable program.

Replies, if any, from Poole or Jones were not included in the messages unsealed Monday by US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman, who is overseeing the 17-month-old Vista Capable class-action lawsuit.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

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