As if Windows Vista hadn't brought Microsoft enough headaches with its poor performance and the 'Vista Capable' lawsuit, it has emerged that the company may have conspired with Intel to lower the nominal hardware requirements for the OS.

The contention comes in documents submitted by class-action plaintiffs unhappy with what they say was misleading labelling applied to computers they wrongly believed could run all versions of Vista.

Not enough juice

The complaint says the lowest-specced computers eligible for the Vista Capable badge could have been beefier than they turned out to be because Intel demanded that Microsoft lower the bar to include its then-old 915 chipsets when MS brought forward the release of Vista and caught Intel unable to supply enough newer hardware.

Emails between the two firms show the extent of the alleged collusion to get some sort of Intel gear aboard the Vista bandwagon.

Losses feared

Intel execs allegedly demanded 915 hardware be deemed eligible, citing potentially huge losses because of the changed launch date – a move that forced Microsoft to move the hardware-requirement goalposts accordingly.

Complainants further backed up their suit by introducing an email from an MS exec that stated baldly:

"I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable program. OEMs will say a machine is Capable and customers will believe that it will run all the core Vista features. We must avoid confusion. It is wrong for customers."

The concern at the centre of the lawsuit is that Vista Capable machines were really not up to scratch at all, being underpowered and barely able to run the lightest version of the OS, let alone the full package, as many believed.