Now that a federal judge has unsealed nearly 160 pages of internal Microsoft emails which have been used to support the plaintiffs' lawsuit relating to the "Windows Vista Capable" program we can start to get a clearer picture of how the logo program went wrong.
Note: You can download the 158 page, 3.6MB PDF containing the emails here.
After working through the document, it's clear that there were concerns about the "Vista Capable" message. For example, back in February of 2006, an email describes how Dell felt that "standards were lowered" which could lead to "customer confusion."
Another issue that seemed to be clear to Microsoft as far back as November 2005 was that retailers would have a hard time explaining what phrases such as "Aero Glass" or "Sideshow" meant to customers months before Vista hit stores. Even Microsoft's own employees disliked the program, with one commenting to another in an email from March 2006 "based on the objective criteria that exist today for capable even a piece of junk will qualify."
But what's really damaging for Microsoft is an email sent last February by Microsoft executive John Kalkman:
In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded. This in turn did two things: 1. Decreased focus of OEMs planning and shipping higher end graphics for Vista-ready programs and 2. Reduced the focus by IHV's to ready great WHQL qualified graphics drivers. We can see this today with Intel's inability to ship a compelling full featured 945 graphics driver for Windows Vista. [emphasis added]
No matter how you cut that, it's a pretty damning statement.
It's going to be interesting to see where this goes ...
Todd Bishop writing for the Seattle P-I has some additional insight here.