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Microsoft Internal Emails Show Dismay With Vista 662

bfwebster writes "Microsoft is currently facing a class-action suit over its designation of allegedly under-powered hardware as being 'Vista Capable.' The discovery process of that lawsuit has now compelled Microsoft to produce some internal emails discussing those issues. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has published extracts of some of those emails, along with a link to a a PDF file containing a more extensive email exchange. The emails reflect a lot of frustration among senior Microsoft personnel about Vista's performance problems and hardware incompatibilities. They also appear to indicate that Microsoft lowered the hardware requirements for 'Vista Capable' in order to include certain lower-end Intel chipsets, apparently as a favor to Intel: 'In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with 915 graphics embedded.' Read the whole PDF; it is informative, interesting, and at times (unintentionally) funny."
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Microsoft Internal Emails Show Dismay With Vista

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:19PM (#22590590) Journal
    From bGates:

    To sBallmer:

    Steve, Why is it taking forever to send emails?

    From sBallmer:

    To bGates:

    Bill, 640 minutes for roundtrip for email should be enough for everyone.

  • Best quote... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wandering Wombat ( 531833 ) <mightyjalapeno AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:20PM (#22590598) Homepage Journal
    "I'm just grateful I kept XP on this machine."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *

      "I'm just grateful I kept XP on this machine."
      I'm grateful I upgraded my system to Linux. []

      Reminds of the old quote I used to read around the web.

      The requirements called for Windows2000 or better, so I upgraded to Linux.
  • At least... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wellingtonsteve ( 892855 ) <> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:21PM (#22590618)
    .. this shows that Microsoft are not misguided/stupid enough to genuinely believe Vista is a Good Operating System.. Let's hope they learn from these mistakes before Windows 7 comes out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plague3106 ( 71849 )
      There's a difference between "we'd like it to be more compatible and run on lower hardware specs" and "Vista just sucks."
    • Re:At least... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:43PM (#22591910) Journal
      Let's hope they learn from these mistakes before Windows 7 comes out.

      As someone who doesn't like Microsoft software and fervently wishes it weren't ubiquitous, I hope they DON'T learn from their mistakes. I'd like to see 90% of all computers sold running various distros of Linux, or actually any other OS but Windows. If Microsoft keeps it up that's what's going to hapopen. Don't discourage them!
  • by CDOS_CDOS run ( 669823 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:23PM (#22590634)
    "I going to f---ing kill the 915 chipset!"
  • by milsoRgen ( 1016505 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:26PM (#22590662) Homepage
    First of all I think the 'Vista Capable' suit is ridiculous. Microsoft deserves to win that one, because I am well aware of what was on the shelf on the low to mid range during that time frame. And those machines should of been fine, I had Vista RTM up and running on my P3 1Ghz w/ GeForce 6600. And it ran with Aero, and was certainly 'capable' in classic.

    However I can understand Microsoft's dismay at it's performance, for relatively little gain you are incurring tremendous performance hit's across the board. File transfer and gaming come to mind most quickly however. But during it's development cycle I got the impression they really had no idea what they wanted out of Vista, dropping key features over the years. And seemingly concentrating to hard on a 'shiny' UI, that although slick in some respects still feels like a mangled XP GUI, with simply a reworked folder system. And a much lauded search to run feature that should of simply been in XP SP3 to hold users over while something, smaller, better, faster, stronger was being developed.

    But in the interests of full disclosure, I have Vista running in a VM... A couple more trips to and I might finally install it, DirectX 10 is still exciting to me.
    • I'm running Vista Ultimate with Aero & dual monitors on an old 875 motherboard, 2.4Ghz Northwood, 1GB ram, Radeon 9600 AGP. No problems whatsoever and performance is fine for work apps (don't play games). I'm thinking of getting a couple of radeon 2400 cards (one AGP one PCI) so I can run three or four monitors.
      • by jerkychew ( 80913 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:58PM (#22591126) Homepage
        It's not just the chipset per se, it's the chipset + embedded graphics. You're getting good Aero performance because you're running an AGP card.
      • Meanwhile I run Linux on my wristwatch with 8kb ram, 8x2 text display and two buttons (one for displaying an ascii-art penguin logo and the other for posting this post I am posting at the moment) and I can even run compiz on it (and it runs pretty damn OK), do most of my development (I research operating systems, artificial intelligence and new ways of man-machine comm), heck, I even play minesweeper on it, and- ha! It runs more smoothly than Vista's minesweeper on a Core 2 Quad with 32 GB of ram and SEVEN monitors (but I guess monitor count doesn't add or subtract too much to/from overall system performance, but I might be wrong).

      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @05:16PM (#22593024) Homepage Journal
        I had a horrible, horrible time with Vista performance, but I use my computer as a development machine. I'm continually bringing up software systems like Oracle and starting and stopping virtual machines. The thing is, I dual booted Linux and never had any problems at all with comparable workloads in Linux. Finally, I figured out that my problem was that the Windows page file was fragmented; it had several thousand fragments, even though the partition it was on was over 50% free.

        I was the victim of a number of peculiar things about Windows. First of course is the incomprehensible practice of putting the paging files on user file systems. Then there is the tendency of NTFS to get fragmented, which has greater impact on laptop disks. But I think the corker is that Vista is greedy for memory -- not that needs that memory, but if it thinks you have plenty to spare it grabs as much as it can early on, probably for superfetch or something like it. I figured this out because launching vmware for the first time after a boot seemed to "crash" the system, only it turned out that the system came back in about ten minutes; five if you had readyboost.

        It turned out what was going on was that launching vmware doubled the amount of virtual memory the system had allocated, and Vista apparently can't deallocate the memory it had hogged fast enough, resulting in massive swapping. I can only speculate, but I'd guess that under these conditions ntfs allocates the new pagefile segments whereever it can, which of course makes impact of swapping even worse. Later, you can shutdown vmware and restart it with no problem; evidently Vista figures out that you might need that physical memory.

        Ultimately, I was able to restore decent performance by defragmenting the system from a rescue disk, and fixing the pagefile so that it was adequately large but could not grow. And now that I know what was going on, I can avoid the problem. However, by now I'd got used to running all my development tasks in virtual machines under Linux, which have the advantage they can be quickly backed up to an external drive. Yes, all the code in source control, but it is a bit nitpicky to get a development system set up just the way I like it. Next time I have a hardware problem on my laptop I'll be able to plug an external drive into a different machine and be ready to go immediately.

        In any case, if it was superfetch, this shows the dangers of clever but superficial fixes to underlying problems. I use lots of different, big applications and files. Superfetch at best does very little for me, although it may be great for the user who uses his computer for web browsing and office suites.
        • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @06:13PM (#22593768) Homepage Journal
          OK, a bit more data. Writing about this made me curious as to what was going on, so I rebooted to Vista with Superfetch disabled. Right off the bat, login takes about twice as long, however, once complete the system is completely responsive -- with superfetch on, the desktop shows faster, but the system is sluggish for a minute or so afterwards.

          Memory usage is still high -- about 1G of physical RAM in use at idle,so I disable ReadyBoost, which brings physical memory in use down to 850M.

          Now I reboot, and launch a task mananger, giving a few minutes for the system reach equillibrium. Once it has, I launch my first vmware machine, and the physical memory shoots up to 1.98 GB, and the system appears crashed. However the disk is working, and there are occasional flashes of screen update. After about five minutes I start to get occasional screen updates which show about 3/4 of physical memory free and about 3/4 of kernel memory paged; CPU use is about 10%, but the system is still unresponsive. A few minutes later the virtual machine is up and everything is responsive, and most of the physical memory is free. I can start and stop the virtual machines with no problem.

          Apparently Vista handles a sudden large memory allocation very poorly. The vmware demon doesn't allocate any memory until the first VM is launched, after that it hangs on to a large block of pages. During the initial allocation, it would appear that is about 400M of physical RAM taken up by operating system pages that aren't really needed anytime soon but which Vista feels it needs to swap out to disk. After things stabilize and I quit all running vmware machines, I'm cruising along using under 500MB of physical RAM, 400MB less than before I launched vmware, although there are a lot of page sitting in swap.

          So it would appear that the problem isn't the size of Vista's working set, but an amazingly huge virtual memory footprint combined with poor handling of large memory allocations. This would explain, for example, why you supposedly can use Vista on 512 MB; the actual working set of the OS is probably small enough, but getting the bulk of the memory footprint swapped out could take a while. I'd say a typical office apps user probably is safe with 1GB, but somebody like me probably should have 4GB of RAM.

          In any case, for my usage patterns, Superfetch only results in superficial performance; ReadyBoost, however, helps a great deal with the fact I don't have enough RAM to launch vmware smoothly; aside from that the improvement is not very noticeable.
    • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:42PM (#22590896)
      I've been using Vista since it came out and have helped to install it on several machines in our office. I can honestly say now that all of those machines I have had to reinstall XP on and with good reason; hardware incompatibilities, software incompatibilities, slowdowns, crashes, freezeups.

      I love the new Vistas look and feel but unfortunately it just doesn't perform the way it was promised and they did rush it to market. I think that any company that rusahes a product to market and the consumer ends up paying for it, should be punished for such negligence. If this were a car manufacturer or a drug manufacturer, you would see the same thing. So why should Microsoft be any different?

    • by texas neuron ( 710330 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:56PM (#22591102) Homepage
      First for possible bias - I have a business with 6 machines running XP exclusively (2 Fujitsu, 4 Dell) and 2 Macs running Tiger (soon to be Leopard) and XP. Second, I am a physician and in general I hate lawsuits.

      If you read the emails, they allowed labeling that had Designed for Windows Vista Basic Logo, Designed for Windows Vista Premium Logo, and then then a Vista Capable logo. Microsoft thought the requirements for the Vista Capable logo is that users "will have a good experience, at least equivalent to Windows XP, when upgraded to Windows Vista."

      I think Microsoft will lose on 2 fronts - their technical requirements apparently are having machines that run Windows Vista to perform worst then Windows XP when they indicate their Vista Capable logo should be equivalent. Second, since they were the ones telling the OEMs what the labels were and the requirements for them, then they needed to communicate this to the end user by having a sanctioned straight forward information sheet available at each sales point.

      What surprises me most about the emails is how they apparently caved in to Intel when they were aware that they were sacrificing the "Vista Experience" for their future buyers. It is no wonder only 1/3rd or so Window Vista License holders are actually running windows Vista (estimate based on combining netapplications market share for Mac OS X and Windows Vista combined with Steve Job's statement of total Mac OS X installed base and Bill Gates statement of 100,000,000 licenses sold.)

  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:30PM (#22590706) Homepage Journal
    OK, I'm officially a Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist(tm).

    I read the title as "Disney", not "Dismay".
  • Vista on minimal HW (Score:4, Informative)

    by secPM_MS ( 1081961 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:32PM (#22590740)
    As my handle notes, I work at MS. I worked on Vista security during its development and was frequently at ship room concerning security issues. My focus is not on neat consumer feature and great graphics. I have found that Vista runs well on old hardware that is not really adequate for the new visuals. -- I turn off the Aero interface (which saves a lot of RAM as well), running "Windows Classic" for my UI. I then go to system advanced properties and optimize for performance. The resulting system works quite well. I have an old XP box (Dell GX620, ~ 3 GHz processor with 1 GByte of RAM) that I am running Vista business on. I added a 330 GByte drive and use it as an index server for ~ 150 GBytes of source code that I search. Except when it is syncing its files with the master, when ~ 40 command line processes run synchronization simultaneously, it is reasonably responsive.

    I have found that Windows server 2008 runs very well on a ~ 3 year old Dell 610 notebook, even when the system is locked into maximum battery life (and minimum performance) mode. It has a ~ 2GHz processor and 2 GBytes of RAM.

    Playing graphics games costs CPU and GPU processing power. From my point of view, the reason to upgrade to Vista is its significantly higher security than XP, let alone the earlier OS's. Search is also very nice and quite useful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anita Coney ( 648748 )
      "From my point of view, the reason to upgrade to Vista is its significantly higher security than XP, let alone the earlier OS's"

      If higher security is the reason, wouldn't it be better to switch to Linux or OSX? Just asking.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:58PM (#22591116)
        Call me a troll or flamer. But come on, even tho I know you are very possible trying to be funny and serious at the same time. But not everything is fixable with *nix or OSX. People look into upgrading their Windows system to a more secure Windows. Not totally changing platform. So please stop suggesting other OS. I have checked out Linux (and I do like it) but some times I just have to log into Windows to get some stuff done right. No OS is the magic wand.
    • by mzs ( 595629 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:56PM (#22591092)
      3 and 2 GHz procs and 1 and 2 Gigs of RAM are minimal HW!? I run Leopard happily on a 1 GHz eMac at home and Tiger on a 450 Mhz G3 tower at work both with 768 MB of RAM. FreeBSD and XP run great on a 750 MHz PC with 512 MB RAM at work as well.
    • by d23tek ( 1208848 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:01PM (#22591182) Homepage
      While you may be correct that the best reason to upgrade to Vista is the improved security, that was clearly not how the product was primarily advertised to the general public. People were shown ads with amazing Aero eye-candy, and told that Vista was the way to get it. When purchasing a computer that says "Vista capable," it's a reasonable assumption for a non-technical user (to which those ads were targeted) that buying a "Vista capable" computer will deliver the most prominently advertised feature of Vista. I'm not saying it's a bulletproof case, because the small print was there, but it's rather self-contradictory to advertise Windows Vista as being easier than ever for novice users, but also expecting same novice users to understand the system requirements of a GUI that is an optional component of an OS.
    • by Richard Fairhurst ( 900015 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:10PM (#22591340) Homepage
      "Playing graphics games costs CPU and GPU processing power"

      Official Microsoft advice: please refrain from playing graphics games on Vista. You may still, however, play text adventures. Honk if you love Zork.

      Windows Vista: Designed For Infocom.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jo42 ( 227475 )
      You Microsoft [expletives deleted].

      Try running Vista Business on a 2.4 GHz P4 with 512MB RAM and a 40GB hard drive.

      Now run XP on the exact same hardware. XP runs better and faster.

      You people failed. You fraked up. You screwed up. Idjits.

      We, the computing public absolutely do NOT want Vista. We want our XP back.
    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:13PM (#22591406) Homepage
      What about my laptop that's listed as Vista Capable, yet only has 512 MB of RAM, Intel GMA, and 1.7 GHz Celeron. Vista certainly doesn't run well on that, no matter how much tweaking I've tried. Sounds like your machines that work fine with Vista have much better specs than a lot of the Vista Capable hardware being sold. Your systems don't really reflect some of the low end computers being passed off as Vista Capable. One has a processor that's almost twice as fast, with twice as much RAM, and the other has a processor that's about the same speed, yet has 4 times more RAM. Mandriva Linux runs quite smoothly, even with Compiz (3D desktop) for comparison's sake. And that's without any tweaks necessary. If Mandriva can provide all the eye-candy without needing a high end computer, why can't Vista?
    • by cecom ( 698048 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:01PM (#22592182) Homepage Journal
      You make good points. In my opinion the improved security fully justifies using Vista for a new home PC. I am trying to be objective - I use Linux myself professionally, but I am very glad to have Vista instead of XP on my wife's laptop.

      However if you consider a 3GHz CPU with 1 GB RAM to be "an old box", then you have some serious perception problems ... :-) An "old box" would be an Athlon 2000 with 512MB PC133 RAM and PATA66. XP runs just fine, thank you.

      At the same time I have Vista Home Premium (dual booting with Debian) on a relatively powerful quad-core PC with 3GB RAM, 512MB NVIDIA 8XXX card, SATA, etc (the works), and while it is not slow, it is not snappy either ! I expect most things to be instantaneous on such hardware and they aren't. Sometimes I get the the waiting cursor even for trivial tasks like opening the control panel, with no other apps running ! (well, except Steam, the anti-virus and the other craplets that come with a pre-installed PC :-) That is a disgrace.

  • by forgoil ( 104808 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:37PM (#22590806) Homepage
    The problem is that the OS is so badly designed and un-optimized that you can't run it on that kind of hardware. There isn't any good reason why Vista should have been slower than XP really, and fancy FX should have been turned on only on premium hardware. Many other OSes can do it after all. Leopard is doing just fine on a core 2 duo with GMA 950 GFX after all...
    • by ianbnet ( 214952 )

      The problem is that the OS is so badly designed and un-optimized that you can't run it on that kind of hardware. There isn't any good reason why Vista should have been slower than XP really, and fancy FX should have been turned on only on premium hardware. Many other OSes can do it after all. Leopard is doing just fine on a core 2 duo with GMA 950 GFX after all...

      You've actually hit the nail on the head... except if you'd RTFA, you would realize that the suit is exactly because this is what Vista does toda

  • A pity, truely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:37PM (#22590818) Homepage
    Microsoft dropped the ball on this one. It is not a Bob, or ME situation, with a strong alternative sitting in the wings. This time, they bet the farm, and now have a lot of crow to eat.

    What saddens me is that I want to like Vista, but I can't. My sister loves it, but to get to run it she has now 8x the PC that I do (Athlon64 x2 vs my ancient Socket-A Sempron), and I still crunch her into the ground for performance in many cases. Microsoft has managed to become the victim of it's own success, I believe. They worked on the premise that hardware would progress faster than it did, but people have hit the point of "good enough." More and more I don't see people upgrading their PC's. I used to pick up used machines easily that were just 2-3 years old. Now, this Sempron 2800 is the last one I got this way, and I've had it for years. People just aren't upgrading. Bodes poorly for Vista.
  • Can AMD use this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cryophallion ( 1129715 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:40PM (#22590860)
    I wonder if AMD can use this in a lawsuit of their own due to anti-competitive practices (On the other hand, it would be burning a bridge with the largest OS manufacturer, but since Intel appears to be getting preferential treatment, there may be something much more sinister below the surface). Not only that, but shouldn't Microsoft's shareholders be kinda ticked? By allowing this to happen, Microsoft opened the door to this lawsuit (something that will not help their investors), while helping out another companies investors, which it would appear was not in Microsoft's investors best interest.
  • by ahabswhale ( 1189519 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:41PM (#22590870)
    I just read their internal emails and it appears that they changed the drivers required for Vista such that due to new DRM A/V requirements in Vista, most existing drivers were made inoperable and, in many cases, would never be fixed. They then colluded with Intel to say that machines based on the 915 chipset were sufficient to run the OS so that Intel would have good quarterly results.

    To summarize, they just don't care about the customer. At no point do the emails indicate them making any decisions based on what's best for their customers. It makes it pretty obvious why Vista has been such a failure so far. They can't even get the service pack right.

    I'm not big on the idea of predicting corporate downfalls but you really have to wonder whether a company that makes such incredibly bad decisions is long for this world.
  • Mike Nash (Score:5, Informative)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:47PM (#22590942) Homepage Journal
    LOL @ Mike Nash's complaint that his $2100 Sony was an email-only machine because it had the Intel 915 chipset that can't run glass or movie maker. Mike Nash is the Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management [].
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:47PM (#22590958) Homepage Journal
    When people are able to run Lord of the rings online in medium graphics level setting with a mid range graphics card, 1 Gb ram and Xp whereas getting almost the same performance with people on vista and high end gear, you can say that the latter os fails in performance.

    and dont feed me the 'but those are games' bullshit. for, games and entertainment comprise almost half of the activity on computers, and even for business, only idiots would want to put vista on a client/standalone computer in the office, having the need to pour a few hundred bucks just for being able to run vista so that the computer is going to conduct the same work it did with xp.

    on gaming front microsoft tried to push vista with the 'high performance' bullcrap to gamers with dx10. correcting - they FORCED it, and almost noone took it. now they have to oblige with nvidia's needs for putting dx10 capability for xp, because people are just evading not only vista, but high end graphics cards too, because they need dx10 to deliver the latest, but noone wants to take the vista sh@t just because of it.

    sorry people. you in microsoft have utterly failed with vista, and you need to go back to drawing board, even, put on your thinking caps and reevaluate your approach to customer and their needs.

    we are not the witless herd of the 90s anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )
      ``and dont feed me the 'but those are games' bullshit''

      Is there any good reason to run Windows besides games?
  • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:50PM (#22591002) Homepage
    In case of performance issues, look! Over there!
    Isn't that Britney checking into rehab?
  • by d23tek ( 1208848 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:51PM (#22591020) Homepage
    Microsoft's REAL error was actually retaining these email messages instead of following their "do-not-save-e-mail directive" and "30-Day E-Mail Destruction Rule", like they did to thwart previous lawsuits [].
  • Quite revealing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <oarigogirdor>> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:53PM (#22591044) Homepage
    Has anyone else noticed that Steve Ballmer barely ever uses punctuation?
  • Warned not to buy (Score:3, Informative)

    by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:55PM (#22591062)
    My company just bought a dozen new machines. Before buying I checked with our vendor that provides one of our business software products and was told that since we use Samba on our servers, Vista can not work with Samba. So we bought XP and have had not a single issue.
  • by BUL2294 ( 1081735 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:01PM (#22591172)
    From the article--an e-mail from Steven Sinofsky to Ballmer...

    People who rely on using all the features of their hardware (like Jon's Nikon scanner) will not see availability for some time, if ever, depending on the mfg. The built-in drivers never have all the features but do work. For example, I could print with [my] Brother printer and use it as a stand-alone fax. But network setup, scanning, print to fax must come from Brother.
    There it is, in plain English. This is what's killing Vista, and Microsoft already saw it a year ago! Ignoring Vista's perceived issues with DRM (which can be circumvented), speed issues & app compatibility (which can be improved with a service pack), and UAC (which has been improved with SP1), many people don't want to throw out even one item of hardware so they could use Vista. And they're right not to do so...

    Microsoft got cheap. Instead of paying reluctant vendors to write Vista drivers for older hardware (supposedly this happened for Win95), they ended up turning Vista into a bitter pill. Case in point, I have an HP Photosmart 7350 printer that I bought in 2002. This printer is great because it was one of the last printers to not have HP's customer-friendly "your printer cartridge is too old so I won't print" mechanism. For a few months after Vista's release, HP kept saying that the printer was incompatible with Vista. Suddenly, the printer is compatible with the "HP Deskjet 5550" driver included with Vista. Huh? Of course, HP says that some features are unavailable, but doesn't say which ones...

    Even Vista fanbois have to agree that hardware incompatibility/driver issues are the biggest problem with Vista. Microsoft's Vista Upgrade adviser, while offering great disclosure, doesn't help promote Vista. So that leaves people like me stuck between having perfectly useful hardware with no fully-functioning Vista driver (or no driver at all), and moving to Vista... So I'm sticking with XP.
    • by flanksteak ( 69032 ) * on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:34PM (#22592536) Homepage

      Agreed. MS made a monumental effort to ensure that Win 3.1 and DOS apps & hardware worked as well as humanly possible on Win95. They knew that successful adoption depended on a painless transition. There was a great story in the Seattle Times back then where an MS employee with a pickup truck drove to Egghead and filled the truck bed [] (scroll down about halfway) with a copy of every shrink-wrapped software product available in the store. He drove back to campus and handed out the boxes to the QA people and said "see if this works". The other great bit about that article is how the descriptions of the work atmosphere (near the bottom) sound like google today. I wonder if anyone would describe MS like that these days?

      I'm surprised that they didn't make the same QA effort for Vista. Backwards compatibility has been their ace in the hole for a long time. People put up with the rest because moving from one OS to another wasn't that hard. Most stuff worked almost immediately and if it didn't it got fixed quickly. But the attitude that all vendors would have to write all new drivers is surprising. Granted that the vendors wouldn't have to write as many as MS would, but for an end-of-lifed product there's no financial incentive for the vendor to update it. While MS would seem to have one, given that people who have now-broken hardware are going to be mostly upset with the company that just took their money. Or if someone learns ahead of time that upgrading will disable their hardware they won't want to buy.

    • by mamer-retrogamer ( 556651 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @06:29PM (#22593940)

      many people don't want to throw out even one item of hardware so they could use Vista

      Microsoft is being bit by its own successful campaign of getting hardware manufactures to only support Windows with "Designed for Windows" hardware. These WinDevices (WinModems, WinPrinters, WinScanners, etc.) rely on Windows to do the bulk of their processing and if you change the way Windows interfaces with these devices (as is the case with Vista) you need to create brand new drivers from scratch. The problem is that hardware manufactures are not going to invest the time and money to make a discontinued piece of hardware work with Vista when they can sell you a shiny new one.

      If Microsoft would have promoted "real" hardware that did not need specialized driver software which is intimately entangled in the internals of Windows, they would not be in this position. Take, for example, a standard Postscript printer: complicated low-level drivers are unnecessary in most operating systems and it just works (to steal a line from the Mac world).

      Could you imagine a world where every multi-function device used standard USB communication to interface to the Postscript/PCL printer, SANE/TWAIN scanner, and the built-in fax modem was a standard serial device that used AT command sequences? If Microsoft promoted such standards, this device could not only "just work" with Vista, but also Mac OS (X or otherwise) Linux, OS/2, BeOS... basically everything. The conspiracy theory part of my brain says that MS just can't stand for that, which is why it did not "discourage" hardware manufactures from tying basic functionality to Windows.

      But now that it needs to change the internals of Windows, Microsoft's hardware lock-in is coming home to roost.

      (BTW, does anyone else think it is monumentally stupid that Vista does not support generic Postscript or PCL printers out of the box and must rely on HP or Adobe for such drivers?)

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:01PM (#22591176) Homepage Journal
    Please hire me to advise you on your products before releasing.
    If you give me political amnesty from others within the company, I an give you an honest view of the quality of a product.

    Based on these email, it seem that upper management is unaware that some of their employees have had their jobs threatened from people in middle management for getting to 'loud'. Nothing direct, but a lot of implied threats.

    I need 120K a year, 100,000 shares, and to work remotely most of the time. I will need to be extracted from the daily 'in the office' routine in order to maintain objectivity.

    I work in the strictest confidence, and I assure you know email will be leaked from my office.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:01PM (#22591178) Homepage
    I see Windows Update mentioned a lot in the PDF.

    Has it ever had a third party driver on it? I've never seen one. I always assumed it was like Windows Media Player which always says "looking for a codec" then "codec not found" - even if it's the most common codec ever which is missing.

    Microsoft could fix an awful lot of problems by making Windows Update actually do something useful. I don't know why they don't do it...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I've seen lots of third party driver updates on windows update. Video, modem, network, even HID. Take a 5 year old mainstream computer (like a dell) and put a fresh OS on it. You'll see several "Optional Hardware" updates.
  • by threeturn ( 622824 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:07PM (#22591274)
    Quote from email to Ballmer in the thread:

    "People who rely on using all the features of their hardware will not see availability [of drivers] for some time, if ever, depending on the mfg. The built-in drivers never have all the features but do work. For example, I could print with my Brother printer and use it as a stand-alone fax. But network setup, scanning, print to fax must come from Brother".

    Yes - buying Vista is a really good idea if you want to keep any existing hardware.

  • by gh ( 68417 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:17PM (#22591460)
    One line said it all:

    "We really botched this."

    You tie that together with his memo from 2004:

    "I am not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers (both business and home) the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems [our] customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that doesn't translate into great products.

    I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft. ... Apple did not lose their way."

    Anybody know if he's since switched to using a Mac? :)
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:27PM (#22591636)
    How much OS do you need to run a browser?

    The OS is pretty much a moot point for most people now. Most everyone I know uses a PC to run a browser
    and email. Sure they may use office or whatever occasionally but the browser and perhaps a email client
    can just about get you anything you need.
  • by Ripit ( 1001534 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:34PM (#22591736)
    FTFA, Steven Sinofsky's first bulleted point in an email to Steve Ballmer:

    No one really believed we would ever ship so they didn't start the work until very late in 2006. This led to the lack of availability. For example my home multi-function printer did not have drivers until 2/2 and even pulled their 1/30 drivers and re-released them (Brother).

    I'm not sure if "they" meant MS employees writing drivers, or hardware vendors writing drivers. Either way, it seems MS has a credibility problem.

    Also, the unsaid meaning of some of the emails is: recognizing that they failed to set a high enough priority to having the device drivers ready when Vista shipped.

    It's not surprising that MS corporate brass had these discussions. You'd expect them to. What is surprising is that they failed at something so fundamental to the business of selling OSes.
  • by curmudgeon99 ( 1040054 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:38PM (#22591804)
    To all the Microsoft apologists out there--this is your Waterloo. Here we have a concrete example of how Microsoft decided to do one of their corporate buddies a huge favor--letting them meet their f'n quarterly numbers. So, Microsoft chose to help one of their rich pals over every single one of their users. That should tell you who they value. And the common perception that Vista is a piece of crap? Confirmed internally! This is just despicable.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:49PM (#22591990) Homepage Journal
    What I've always found funny about Vista is that it had poor compatibility with existing Windows applications, and abysmal hardware support. You know, the two things that (rightly) prevent people from using another OS instead of Windows...
  • Emails (pdf) Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by petehead ( 1041740 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:35PM (#22592548)
    Here is a summary for those that don't want to read the PDF:

    Early 2006: Microsoft got cozy with HP to make sure that HP invested in a better graphical experience for Vista. Intel had to make its quarterly earnings and convinced Microsoft to call their chipset "capable" even though it couldn't meat the graphic standards. Microsoft had explicitly told HP that they wouldn't do this, but they, led by some dude named Will Poole, decided to bone HP to make Intel (specifically some SVP chick named Renee-most likely Renee James) happy. Then MS discussed how they are going to try to play it off to intel with some fancy obfuscating letter. They got this guy at MS named Jim Allchin to sign off on it, which he reluctantly did, but chastised them for pulling this crap. Some dude named Mike Ybarra pointed out to Jim that they are boning HP and their customers just to get cuddly wuddly with Intel and Jim seemed to agree, but figured the wheels were in motion and could not be stopped. Mike specifically said, "We are caving to Intel... We are really burning HP... We are allowing Intel to drive our consumer experience..."

    Fast forward a year later and some board member John Shirley sends some borderline literate guy named Steve Balmer an email about how his shit won't work with Vista and that some of the stuff may never get Vista drivers. They surmise that vendors didn't trust them to deliver Vista (gee, wonder why) so they didn't make drivers. Balmer sends an email to some guy named Steven Sinofsky asking about the driver situation. Sinofsky agrees that vendors didn't expect them to ship and also says that changes to Vista made it so XP drivers wouldn't work, he questions how smart it was to call the Intel chipset "capable" when it wasn't, and says that they need to be clearer with the industry. Then some exec named Mike Nash points out how his company boned him because he bought a $2100 "Vista capable" laptop that is only good as an email machine.

    In the end, some exec John Kalman says that lowering their standard for Intel screwed them and they won't make such a stupid mistake with Windows 7.

    In short, Will Poole is a weasel who is just trying to make some Intel chick happy. Mike Ybarra is too thoughtful and has too much foresight to work at MS. Jim Allchin needs to go with his gut and remind Will Poole which side of the desk he sits on. Steve Ballmer is missing some keys on his keyboard. Steven Sinofsky and Kohn Kalman have 20/20 hindsight. HP deserves to kick somebody's ass at MS. They should probably kick Intel's ass too, but MS is too busy licking it.
  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @06:05PM (#22593634)
    The MS Vista debacle is fantastic. These Vista (in)capable machines run Linux just fine.
  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Friday February 29, 2008 @03:10AM (#22597722) Homepage Journal

    Robin Leonard, a Microsoft employee, wrote that Wal-Mart is "extremely disappointed in the fact that the standards were lowered and feel like customer confusion will ensue.

    If Walmart is complaining about quality, then you've really dumped a steaming turd into the marketplace.


The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.