A federal judge today unsealed internal Microsoft e-mails that have been used to support the plaintiffs' case in the lawsuit over the "Windows Vista Capable" program. Snippets were previously read aloud in court, but the full messages go further to reveal extensive hand-wringing, at the highest levels of the company, over Windows Vista's hardware and software compatibility problems after the operating system was launched.
For example, one February 2007 exchange (PDF, 17 pages) started with an e-mail to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer from board member Jon Shirley, who explained that he upgraded one of his computers to Windows Vista only to find it was experiencing compatibility problems with two of Microsoft's own MSN applications. Shirley wasn't upgrading his other computer because of a lack of hardware drivers. As many early Windows Vista users know, Shirley wasn't the only one experiencing those kinds of problems, especially in the initial months after release.
In addition to some of the previously reported excerpts -- including executive Mike Nash's complaint that compatibility problems turned his $2,100 PC into nothing more than an "email machine" -- that thread led to a revealing message from Steven Sinofsky, then the newly installed Windows chief. In the message, Sinofsky offered his take on what went wrong with Windows Vista's launch, and how the company should change its approach in the future.