HP and Microsoft Duke It Out Over Vista

Now here's a story a VAR could love: Two channel powerhouses, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, are duking it out in court over a technology issue. The VARs for both companies can sit back, munch poporn while watching the show, and take solace in the fact that customers can't blame them. And what a nasty show it is!

These two usually secretive companies are having quite a public catfight over Microsoft's decision to loosen certifying standards for the Vista operating system. Previously secret e-mails released last week by the trial judge show that customers were essentially fooled into buying PCs that couldn't run the "full" version of Vista, even if they were upgraded. Many of those PCs passed through VARs and other channel outlets.

The trial data shows that HP execs grew mighty annoyed because company developers went through a lot of hassle and expense to adequately support Vista on the company's higher-end PCs, only to be undercut by other vendors whose cheaper products carried the same Vista Capable logo sticker from Microsoft, even though driver support wasn't quite right.

The result has been a vintage Laurel & Hardy comedy routine. HP is doing its best "Here's-another-fine-mess-you've gotten-me-into" Oliver Hardy imitation, while Microsoft responds with that dumbfounded "Who,me?" Stan Laurel look. Fact is, both sides should have known better. The evidence indicates at least one Microsoft executive did, in fact, know better and issued a warning, but was simply ignored.

This is strong stuff, both for the channel and the consumer. Unhappy customers aren't good for channel partners, even when the partners aren't responsible for the mess. And consumers have every right to get fed up at the arrogance of top Microsoft officials, who sure seem to be putting profit above public good (what a surprise). No wonder millions of users are sticking with the older XP operating system alternative, despite Microsoft's attempts to drag them kicking and screaming into the Vista era! And no wonder Microsoft gets slammed so repeatedly in the blogosphere!

This case is a real advertisement for computer alternatives. Can anyone say "Apple" and "Steve Jobs"?

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