Last-minute changes to Windows Vista broke drivers, forcing key hardware vendors to "limp out with issues" when the OS launched last year, according to a presentation by Dell that was made public this week.
"Late OS code changes broke drivers and applications, forcing key commodities to miss launch or limp out with issues," said one slide in a Dell presentation dated March 25, 2007, about two months after Vista's launch at retail and availability on new PCs.
The criticism was just one of many under the heading "What did not go well?" Others ranged from knocks against Vista's Windows Anytime Upgrade scheme, an upgrade option, to several atacks on "Windows Vista Capable," the marketing programme that targeted PC buyers shopping for machines in the months leading up to Vista's debut.
"Stronger messaging regarding hardware requirements (the bar was set too low when Aero was dropped as a requirement for Vista Capable)," Dell's presentation noted in another slide.
That response will not have come as a surprise to Microsoft. Dell had voiced its dissatisfaction with Microsoft's marketing plans a year and a half earlier. In August 2005, Gretchen Miller, Dell's director of mobile marketing - responsible for the Texas company's laptop marketing - gave feedback to Microsoft on its Vista programs.
"[The dual logo] adds another level of complexity to an already complex story, which in turn will create confusion for our customers, both corporate and consumer," said Miller in an e-mail. Although Dell advised Microsoft to scale back the logos, the software developer eventually went ahead with its plans for two stickers, once that announced a PC was "Vista Capable," the other advertising that the system was "Vista Premium Ready."
Dell also used the March 2007 presentation to hit at other things it thought Microsoft got wrong in the push for Vista. "Windows Automatic Update was not what was advertised and has lead to a number of poor customer experiences," Dell charged. "Upgrade program needs a complete overhaul."
Microsoft's response to Dell's criticisms was not included in the documents revealed by US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman this week. A Microsoft OEM account manager who passed the Dell presentation to others at her company, however, said that she had told Dell that Microsoft would "have a more detailed post mortem discussion around capable and upgrade in the May  timeframe."