As reported here yesterday, one of the most eye-catching elements of the newly disclosed internal Microsoft e-mails on Windows Vista was an e-mail from Microsoft's John Kalkman to Scott Di Valerio, then in charge of the company's relations with PC makers.
In the February 2007 message, Kalkman explained why the company lowered the requirements for a PC to qualify for the "Windows Vista Capable" designation, to include hardware that didn't support the new operating system's advanced graphics.
In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded. This in turn did two things: 1. Decreased focus of OEMs planning and shipping higher end graphics for Vista-ready programs and 2. Reduced the focus by IHV's to ready great WHQL [Windows Hardware Quality Labs] qualified graphics drivers. We can see this today with Intel's inability to ship a compelling full featured 945 graphics driver for Windows Vista.
The notion of Microsoft making the decision specifically to help Intel's quarterly results is drawing some attention in the industry today. Among other things, securities laws regulate selective financial disclosures.
"We don't know who John Kalkman is," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy this afternooon. "We do know he's not qualified to know anything about internal Intel financials or forecasts related to chipsets, motherboards or any other products." Mulloy said Kalkman "would have no visibility into our financial needs in any given quarter."
Such an arrangement between Microsoft and Intel would be "questionable, at best," said PC industry analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates. "A company typically isn't supposed to make as an objective that it helps another company with its earnings unless there's an ownership relationship there. ... If helping Intel helps Microsoft then it could be justified but on the face of it, it sounds a little funny. Why would they be helping Intel unless there's some other quid pro quo that's not in the e-mail?"
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