Over in the US, a class action lawsuit against Microsoft is gathering steam. It's just been passed by a judge as a valid case, which means that a group of consumers can sue for being sold laptops that were stickered as Vista Ready when they could barely run the basic version.
As part of the process, the judge has just unsealed a court document (from the Seattle PI website. Big PDF) containing 168 pages of internal Microsoft emails. This is dynamite stuff, and I'm still wading through it, but so far I've learned that Microsoft really shafted HP, Jim Allchin was so far out of the loop he wasn't even at the funfair, and that the biggest fly in the ointment was Intel.
Briefly: Intel's 915 chipset had embedded graphics that weren't up to Microsoft's standard for Vista Ready (or Capable or... there are a lot of variations. Read the emails for the incredible semantic convolutions involved). Intel put a great deal of pressure on Microsoft to change its qualification level so that Intel could continue to sell its chips and make its numbers. Microsoft caved in (having promised other vendors, like HP, that it wouldn't), and the world was full of Vista Ready laptops that weren't. Really, they weren't.
But there's tons more. Read these emails If you want a crash course in the sort of juggling act Microsoft put on as it steered Vista towards the gate, dealing with OEMs and retailers, press and analysts, advertising and marketing, across multiple markets and with more conflicting interests than the United Nations. There's enough in here to keep an entire army of hacks and bloggers busy for months, so get in early.
And you'll never look at that Windows sticker on your laptop in the same light again.