updated 02:40 pm EST, Mon November 24, 2008
Ballmer in Vista Lawsuit
Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer will be asked to testify as to what he knows in the lawsuit over misleading Vista Capable logos, US Federal District Court Judge Martha Pechman has ruled. The decision will ask Ballmer to make statements to the plaintiff's lawyers for a maximum of three hours to determine whether he had any role in the company's deliberate lowering of the requirements for the Vista Capable logo in 2006, which let Intel's GMA 915 chipset qualify and later drew complaints of unacceptable performance when Vista ultimately shipped.
Ballmer has publicly denied knowing anything about the move and has so far claimed only to know what has been relayed through former Microsoft executives Jim Allchin and Will Poole. However, he has also acknowledged having "brief discussions" with Intel over the requirements and timing and has been supported by an attempt from the company to block his testimony by claiming that he had no involvement.
The executive is also known to have met Intel chief Paul Otellini in January 2006, approximately at the same time the requirements were lowered.
Microsoft's move is widely understood through legally published e-mail to have been prompted by Intel worries that its sales of low-end mainboards and processors would suffer later in 2006, particularly during the holidays. Windows Vista depends heavily on graphics hardware and, on GMA 915, is both typically slower and incapable of displaying the full Aero Glass interface that the GMA 950 and newer chipsets can use.