Microsoft execs struggled with early Windows Vista

Even some of Microsoft Corp.'s top officials struggled to make Windows Vista work smoothly when it was released, according to internal e-mails released Wednesday. The messages, unsealed in a lawsuit against the company, show that Vista's early problems with hardware and software compatibility affected more than just average PC users. The e-mails also illustrate how […]

Even some of Microsoft Corp.'s top officials struggled to make Windows Vista work smoothly when it was released, according to internal e-mails released Wednesday.

The messages, unsealed in a lawsuit against the company, show that Vista's early problems with hardware and software compatibility affected more than just average PC users. The e-mails also illustrate how the company will try to avoid such issues in the next Windows release.

"We need to be clearer with industry, and we need to decide what we will do and do that well and 100 percent and not just do a little of everything," wrote Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive who took over Windows engineering after Vista's retail release in January 2007.

The scattershot approach left hardware makers "in a confused state," Sinofsky added in the February 2007 e-mail, not long after he assumed the post. The message is notable in part because Sinofsky has been publicly quiet about Microsoft's plans for the next version, known by the internal code name Windows 7.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer endorsed Sinofsky's sentiment succinctly. "Righto," Ballmer replied.

Those and other messages were made public as part of a lawsuit alleging that Microsoft deceived consumers before Windows Vista's launch by touting PCs as "Windows Vista Capable" even if they could run only Windows Vista Home Basic. That bare-bones version lacks many of Windows Vista's signature features, such as slick graphics.

The lawsuit was granted class-action status last week. The e-mails unsealed Wednesday, previously disclosed only in snippets, focus in part on an internal debate over the standards for the "Windows Vista Capable" designation. But they also expose a broader discussion about the operating system's compatibility problems.

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said in a statement Wednesday: "Throughout this process, Microsoft employees raised concerns and addressed issues with the intent to make this program better for our business partners and valuable for consumers. That's the sort of exchange we want to encourage. And in the end, we believe we succeeded in achieving both objectives."

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Microsoft, Windows Vista, Installation, Deployment, Windows Vista Capable