Even if you don't approve of violence in the media, it is impossible not to admire the finesse with which Intel is twisting the knife inside Vista's vital organs. Not content with forcing Microsoft to downgrade the Vista Capable sticker requirement so that it included Intel's outdated 915 chip – and excluded Vista capability – Intel is now gleefully pumping XP full of monkey glands and sending it cakes full of files, ahead of its planned execution in June.
For June will also see the first wave of low-cost Atom-powered sub-notebooks, the £200-£300 wireless-enabled flash-drive segment that the Asus Eee has explosively created. Now the most painfully fashionable must-haves on the planet, such computers will be powerful enough to get onto the Internet and run tons of applications – but only under relatively abstemious operating systems such as XP or Linux. "I don't think you'll see a lot of Vista in this space for cost reasons,” Navin Shenoy, general manager of Intel's Asia-Pacific operations says. Until June 30th, of course, after which XP will no longer be available.
That means Microsoft has three choices: abandon that market to Linux, keep XP going with all that that implies for its Vista plans, or cut the price of Vista basic with all that that implies for its revenue plans. Nice.
That may not be what Microsoft wants you to think, though. Cue the curious case of Windows 7. What's that? Microsoft's not saying. There are leaks, hints, mysterious screen shots and lots of rumours. It's being brought forward. It's going to be modular, low cost, high performance. It'll fit into the XP/Linux space just fine. But you won't find much officially about this.
Which may bring back memories for some. Back in the prehistoric days of DOS, Microsoft had a similar bind. A competitor to MS-DOS, DR-DOS, was gaining ground. It was better, had more features, and was being released on a much more aggressive schedule. It was real competition. It got in the way of Microsoft's plans – which were to leave DOS to fester while it got on with developing Windows, but forcing people to keep buying both.
Microsoft reacted by a raft of measures, including the leaking of details of a future product that was never to actually ship. DR-DOS was brutally put to death. A company called Caldera – which later became SCO, but let's not go there right now -- inherited the corpse and set about seeking vengeance. From a deposition made in the anti-trust case of Caldera versus Microsoft:.
“Silverberg admitted that the product(s) disclosed in September 1991 were a rough approximation of what ultimately hit the market in August 1995: Windows 95. Silverberg Depo. at 121, 124-125; see also Ballmer Depo. at 180-181. As such, Microsoft was telling the world in September 1991 -- the month DR DOS 6.0 shipped -- that "coming soon" was that which never arrived: the separate DOS component of Windows 95.
314. Microsoft's manipulations with vaporware are astounding. Microsoft's attorneys defend its presentations to customers and the media as somehow being cloaked in secrecy by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). But Microsoft's executives concede no such secrecy exists. For instance, as to plans for Windows NT, Ballmer wrote Jon Lazarus in April 1992:
the design preview has not leaked to the press are you surprised do you wish it would if so when”
That case was ended by Microsoft just before the trial, by paying the traditional 'undisclosed sum' – thought to be the better part of a billion dollars – in exchange for secrecy.
No court case, no judgement, no admission of wrongdoing.
Ballmer, as far as is known, continues to work for Microsoft.