A month ago, everyone wanted to vilify Intel for pressuring Microsoft into approving the crippled "Vista Capable" label for certain low-grade PCs. But new evidence suggests A) that Best Buy was instrumental in approving the sinister two-tiered Vista approach very early on and B) that all of this hare-brained scheming seems to have originated at Microsoft itself.
According to CRN ChannelWeb, Vista marketing director Rajesh Srinivasan and others devised the now infamous two-tiered Vista Ready/Vista Capable plan— the latter category known to be incapable of handling the nice Vista Aero visual interface because of paltry Intel integrated graphics support—in the summer of 2005. Srinivasan pitched the idea to Best Buy as early as August 2005, and Best Buy was apparently gung-ho on it.
It was clear, at least to Srinivasan, that Best Buy liked the fact that "100% of PCs" would be associated with Vista, thanks to the creation of a "Vista Capable" category.
Here's where it gets funny, though. Originally, Srinivasan recommended that Vista Ready PCs got a logo, while Vista Capable PCs did not. Somewhere along the line, though, this changed and colorful Vista-friendly labels were stuck on both the geniune and crippled systems. (The article doesn't stipulate who pushed whom on this particular matter.)
As for hapless Intel, its involvement appears to have begun six months later, when Intel is said to have been happy that Microsoft dropped the ban on lower-end Aero-incapable chipsets like the 915. Better still, Srinivasan at one point suggested in an e-mail that Microsoft "put pressure on Intel to end of life by 915 by Oct 06," so it's very hard to call Intel the bully.