Intel-Microsoft Vistagate, Part 2
News Analysis. Storytelling is an art, but in legal matters it’s the difference between guilt or innocence. The unfolding story about Windows Vista certification of Intel 915 graphics chip sets is good example.
Intel and Microsoft will tell their stories and so will the lawyers involved in the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit. If there are additional criminal or civil cases, yet more stories will be told. But which one—if any—will be true?
I would like to review what some of these stories could be and the possible implications for Microsoft as well as its customers and partners.
Quick recap: 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 negative market results, he admits: “It was a mistake on our part to change the original graphics requirements.”
What’s indisputable, based on the e-mail thread: Microsoft lowered graphics requirements to accommodate the 915 chip set, which wasn’t fully capable of running Windows Vista. But the story behind the decision is more nebulous. Who knew what and when, and why was the decision made?
Behind the Kalkman statement is a story. Actually, it’s probably several intertwined stories with overlapping plot lines. “We lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings” is too simple an explanation. Both Intel and Microsoft had much at stake with the Windows Vista launch—and their objectives probably weren’t all that complementary.
The Lawyer’s Spin Story. If I were on the Windows Vista Capable plaintiff legal team, the story would be simple. The one logo program, Windows Vista Ready, makes sense because PCs support all versions. The second