The reams of Microsoft internal e-mail that are going public as part of the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit make for great reading. That said, a lot of the reading is ancient history (with most of the missives dating from 2005 and 2006). I want the background on some more current Vista-related decisions and events.
The Vista Capable suit focuses on whether Microsoft deserves punishment for leading customers to believe that "Windows Vista Capable" PCs running a stripped-down version of its operating system were actually less than capable. While Microsoft had hoped to sweep the suit under the rug, the e-mail evidence -- especially between Microsoft and Intel, and Microsoft and HP -- have proven to juicy to ignore. Now Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going to be deposed as part of the case (against Microsoft's valiant attempts to claim Ballmer had no involvement in the Vista marketing missteps.)
Unfortunately, by the time this case is settled or won/lost, a lot of what is being charged/discussed will be nothing but water under the bridge. Did Microsoft sacrifice its PC maker partners to appease Intel? Did the company forge ahead and launch Vista, knowing PC and peripheral makers wouldn't be ready for months with compatible wares? The answers, while interesting, probably won't matter a whole lot to Windows customers who are now weighing whether and when to buy -- not Vista -- but Windows 7 PCs next year.
There are a bunch of questions related to this lawsuit that I'm doubtful will be covered by any of the e-mail evidence, but which I consider potentially more interesting and relevant to PC users/vendors. Among them:
* If Microsoft knew, as the e-mail evidence suggests, that Vista wouldn't work correctly (or at all) with many existing PCs and peripherals, why did company officials try to bury the fact that Vista Service Pack (SP) 1, which would fix a number of these issues, was on its way?
* Why did Microsoft wait until fall 2008 to start marketing Vista against Apple's OS X (the only real, remaining competitor that Microsoft has in PC operating systems)? (The consumer launch of Vista was in January 2007.)
* Did Microsoft evaluate the idea of giving unhappy Vista (especially Vista Capable) users their money back? What about users who bought Vista Ultimate but felt they never got their money's worth from the few Ultimate Extras that Microsoft ended up launching?
* Microsoft officials started apologizing (sort of) for some of the mistakes it made with Vista in late 2007. (The apology campaign didn't really get going in earnest until 2008.) What finally spurred them to do so?
* What is Microsoft doing, if anything, to help peripheral, PC vendor and software developer partners whose products still don't work with Vista to make their wares compatible? Ditto with customers whose custom applications don't work with Vista -- are the Softies going the extra mile to help fix problems?
What Vista questions would you like to see addressed via the e-mail record?