Ars Technica has a wonderfully insightful piece about the Vista Capable lawsuit, and the ramifications of the $1.5B number that the plaintiffs have been floating around in the case. if you haven’t read it yet, please do so, as I agree with their points, and it is the jumping-off point for what I am about to discuss.
First off, I want to point out that the lawsuit itself is totally bogus. While it is very good that some of the information came to light, I don’t personally think it has any merit whatsoever, and it is just an attempt to pry money from Microsoft’s hands for no good reason. “Capable” means that it can run Vista, which computers that were so labeled were technically capable of. It did not say “capable of running all editions of Vista,” so any assumption on the consumer’s part, without reading the fine print, is the consumer’s fault. Caveat Emptor.
I admit that the program was confusing, but any consumer taking more than 10 seconds to look at it could have figured it out. Also, it’s not like these computers were not capable of running Home Premium or Ultimate, it’s just that a) you wouldn’t get Aero, and b) you wouldn’t get that great of an experience due to lack of performance. Hey, I ran Windows 95 on a 486 with 4MB RAM. It was possible, just not a good idea.
Secondly, having a couple years to look back on the whole thing, for all the bellyaching HP did about it, I think the effort they put in benefitted them in the end. Who is the top selling computer maker in the last 2 years? HP. It’s because they make a better overall product (regardless of how much crap they add to it, but I’ve ranted about that enough already (with another one coming soon).
In my first post on the subject, I talked about how an HP exec bristled when I even mentioned WinSAT in a discussion. Regardless of his reaction, my point about WinSAT was (and is) still valid. The OEMs know what hardware produces which WinSAT score. i don’t understand why OEMs aren’t shipping more balanced machines. Most PCs that ship today come with wildly schizophrenic WinSAT scores. My Samsung Q1 ranges from a 4.0 in memory to a 1.5 on processor with Windows 7, and the Lenovo x300 I’m also reviewing varies from 6.0 for the SSD to a 3.5 on graphics with Windows 7. That’s just ridiculous, these machines should be far more balanced than they are.
I think you should be able to go online, and say that you want a computer that rates a 3.0 across the board, and they will put in hardware that does the trick. Then, when you look online at PC games you want to buy, you should be able to see underneath it computers for sale at various retailers that meet the minimum requirements. It could work the same for servers too. Wouldn’t it be great if you could say “well, if you need to serve 10,000 SQL requests an hour, you need a system with a minimum 4.2 WinSAT score, and then you could find well-balanced machines preconfigured to handle those requirements, or servers available from hosting providers for that matter.
Anyways, getting back to the point. HP, Lenovo, Dell and the like make products with varying degrees of quality. HP’s computers were best suited to run Vista, and the market responded to that. Coupled with Dell’s piss-poor technical support, and HP is at the top of the heap. While it is understandable that they put so much effort into meeting the original requirements, and they might be upset at the change… I think that it did far more good than harm in the end. So as a company, I don’t think they have much to complain about.
But hey, that’s just my opinion.