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More dirt in 'Vista Capable' lawsuit

In latest court filings, e-mails detail exchanges between Intel and Microsoft--and within Redmond--about concerns over Microsoft's "Vista Capable" program.

You know an e-mail is going to be juicy when its subject line is "CONFIDENTIAL" and it starts out: "I would prefer not to have this discussion on email."

That's how Intel's Renee James started an e-mail to Microsoft's Will Poole, discussing the company's concerns over Microsoft's "Vista Capable" program. Intel was particularly upset over Microsoft's plan to require Vista Capable machines to have graphics cards that would support Vista's new driver model, as its 915 chipset was not planned to have that support.

Microsoft eventually did drop that requirement, a shift that is now the subject of a class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs in that case charge that, by caving to Intel, Microsoft allowed sub-optimal Vista machines to be sold with the Vista Capable sticker.

The exchange between James and Poole is just one of many new e-mails detailed in the latest court filings, which were noted Thursday by Seattle-area tech site TechFlash.

TechFlash has the full court filing up on its Web site, so if it's a slow Friday, by all means give the article and the documents a read. If you don't have time, here are some of the juiciest bits:

• Intel CEO Paul Otellini called Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer personally to air his complaints about the program, which initially didn't call for machines running Intel's 915 chipset to qualify for the Vista Capable sticker.

• While Sony was pleased Microsoft decided to allow the 915-based systems to qualify even though they lacked a Vista graphics driver, Dell was confused, given that such systems wouldn't qualify for a Vista logo once Vista started shipping. HP meanwhile, was peeved, because it had invested in pricier graphics chips to support Vista's WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) graphics requirement.

• Jim Allchin was described variously as "beyond being upset" and "apoplectic" over the decision, while other Microsoft workers described it as bad for customers.

In an e-mail--one that I'm sure is a favorite of the plaintiffs' lawyers--Allchin says "I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable program."

Computer makers "will say a machine is Capable and customers will believe that it will run all the core Vista features," Allchin wrote. "The fact that aero (Vista's new graphics theme) won't be there EVER for many of these machines is misleading to customers."