In a motion unsealed Friday in the ongoing "Windows Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs used an exchange of messages between Microsoft and Intel to back their claim that the former deceived customers who later bought machines equipped with the latter's older chip sets.
The Intel 915 chip sets -- on-the-motherboard integrated graphics that provided less-powerful graphics support than a separate graphics card -- were unable to run Aero, Vista's flashy new graphics interface. According to the emails, PCs using the Intel 915 chip sets initially did not qualify as Vista Capable because they could not meet the requirements of the Windows Device Driver Model (WDDM), the revamped driver architecture that debuted in Vista.
When Intel found out that Microsoft wanted to jump-start the Vista Capable campaign on April 1, 2006, three months earlier than expected, it complained to Microsoft, saying that it wouldn't have enough higher-end chip sets available to sell to computer makers.
People often reckon that Microsoft and Intel secretly work together (against AMD and others). I think this explodes that myth. They have always had an uneasy relationship.
To be fair to Microsoft, I don't see why "Vista Capable" is a problematic description. These machines run Vista (if they have enough memory) and that's all that's implied by the description. The "Designed for..." designation is different.
However, almost all Vista features could be implemented on older hardware if Microsoft had bothered to try. For instance, the huge graphic memory requirements would be unnecessary but for the fact that aero seems to be designed to cope with multiple window movements simultaneously - the fact that Windows only has one mouse and therefore only one window can be dragged at a time was somehow overlooked. If programmers were forced to work on real-world hardware (rather than state-of-the-art hardware) these problems would not arise.
Only one thumbnail is ever displayed at any given time. This could be generated on demand using old Windows API functions with little difficulty. The only significant features of aero that might be tricky to implement on older hardware are the glowing title-bar buttons (not sure) and the 3D Alt-tab effect. I haven't noticed anything else.