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Ballmer Points to Others in 'Vista Capable' Lawsuit

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer denied knowing the details of "Vista Capable," a Microsoft hardware certification and Vista marketing campaign.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer denied knowing the details of "Vista Capable," a Microsoft hardware certification and Vista marketing campaign. He made the claim in a court deposition with a Sept. 26, 2008 date. The Vista Capable program certifies new PCs as capable of running Microsoft's newest operating system.

A SeattlePI.com blog provides a link to the deposition, in which Ballmer talks about being out of the loop.

"I was not involved in any of the operational decisions about the Windows Vista Capable program," Ballmer stated in the deposition. "I was not involved in establishing the requirements computers must satisfy to qualify for the Windows Vista Capable program. I was not involved in formulating any marketing strategy or any public messaging surrounding the Windows Vista Capable program."

Microsoft is being sued for deceptive marketing practices associated with Vista Capable stickers that were placed on new PCs. Some of the PCs certified as Vista Capable could at best run Windows Vista Home Basic, which leaves out some features promoted in Microsoft's Vista advertising campaigns, such as the Aero graphics interface.

Microsoft describes the hardware requirements for Vista in a systems requirements comparison chart. Windows Vista Home Basic needs 512 MB of RAM compared with 1 GB for more expensive editions, according to the chart. In addition, the more expensive Vista editions require DirectX 9 graphics support with 128 MB of graphics memory at minimum.

Ballmer pointed to two former Microsoft executives as his source of knowledge about the Vista Capable program. Those people, who no longer work at Microsoft, include Jim Allchin, Microsoft's former co-president of Platform Products and Services, and Will Poole, Microsoft's former senior vice president of Windows Client Business.

An Allchin e-mail, disclosed by plaintiffs in February, stated with regard to the Vista Capable program, "We really botched this….You guys have to do a better job with our customers." Allchin retired in January of 2007 after serving 17 years at Microsoft.

Poole is a 25-yer veteran of Microsoft who last worked at Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Group. He joined networking solution provider NComputing last month.

Microsoft's lawyers initially had tried to block Ballmer's deposition as unnecessary to the case. The lawyers negotiated deposition times for Allchin and Poole for early October.

Vista's hardware requirements may have been a factor in the somewhat slow adoption of the operating system. In the enterprise space, Vista adoption is estimated at less than 10 percent, after about 18 months of being on the market.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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