Intel-Microsoft Vistagate, Part 1
News Analysis. How serious could be Intel’s and Microsoft’s mutually beneficial, apparent collusion over Windows Vista and integrated graphics chip sets? Criminal.
This morning, I asked Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, if there might be violations under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department or Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Yes, to all of the above,” he answered. “Maybe, we haven’t exhausted the universe of possible problems here.”
Quick recap of this week’s events: As part of the discovery process for the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit, on Wednesday the court publicly disclosed 158 pages of internal Microsoft documents. On page 30, unidentified Microsoft employee John Kalkman writes in an e-mail about Vista certification for an Intel chip set: “We lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded.” Later, after explaining some of the negative market results, he admits: “It was a mistake on our part to change the original graphics requirements.”
Goldman hadn’t yet reviewed all the released documents, when we first spoke. Clearly stunned, he asked me to reread the Kalkman quote about Microsoft helping Intel earnings.
The statement is “very serious” if straightforward as it appears, “with life-changing consequences for the individuals involved,” he emphasized.
Later, after becoming more familiar with the case, he e-mailed and expressed how news stories “shockingly haven’t been getting into the legal consequences.”
Goldman emphasized: “These emails are certainly germane—and problematic for Microsoft—in the consumer lawsuit against Microsoft. However, they also seem to suggest a number of other potential legal risks—both civil and criminal—that Microsoft, Intel and some of their employees could face.”
Today, Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told me that “John Kalkman has no idea what internal Intel financial or forecasts might be