Microsoft uses Vista haters to demonstrate that Vista’s not so bad.

If you’ve spent much time here then you already know that I think Windows Vista is a decent operating system that is unfairly maligned. If I had a dime for every time I’ve had someone talk to me about how much Vista sucks only to say they haven’t tried it when I ask if they’ve even touched the OS, well, I’d have at least a few bucks to spend. Surely I’m not the only person who’s noticed that it’s gotten to the point of being “common knowledge” that Vista blows chunks such that the criticisms are repeated endlessly by people who haven’t even used the OS.

It seems Microsoft noticed that trend as well and they set out to put it to the test:

Spurred by an e-mail from someone deep in the marketing ranks, Microsoft last week traveled to San Francisco, rounding up Windows XP users who had negative impressions of Vista. The subjects were put on video, asked about their Vista impressions, and then shown a “new” operating system, code-named Mojave. More than 90 percent gave positive feedback on what they saw. Then they were told that “Mojave” was actually Windows Vista.

“Oh wow,” said one user, eliciting exactly the exclamation that Microsoft had hoped to garner when it first released the operating system more than 18 months ago. Instead, the operating system got mixed reviews and criticisms for its lack of compatibility and other headaches.

To be sure, the focus groups didn’t have to install Vista or hook it up to their existing home network. Still, the emotional appeal of the “everyman” trying Vista and liking it clearly packs an emotional punch, something the company has desperately needed. Microsoft is still trying to figure out just how it will use the Mojave footage in its marketing, though it will clearly have a place.

I wouldn’t be surprised by that at all. Certainly Vista has it’s issues, but then what OS doesn’t. The truth is the problems it had at launch were no where near as bad as what XP went through and, as was the case with past versions of Windows, it’s been slowly improving since then.

Apparently Microsoft is rolling out a new campaign promoting Vista that will run into the hundreds of millions in dollars and will include such things as free technical support for small businesses that switch to using Vista. Along the way you can be sure they’re going to be using that Mojave footage to show that Vista has gotten a bad rap:

“In the weeks ahead, we’ll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista,” Ballmer wrote. “And later this year, you’ll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.”

What gives the Mojave project its power, though, is the fact that it isn’t Ballmer or someone else at Microsoft saying that Vista has gotten a bad rap. It’s everyday people.

With scenes reminiscent of both Apple’s “real people” campaign of a few years back as well as classic commercials from Folgers and others, the Mojave project could prove a formidable weapon.

The Mojave project is remarkable both for its humble origin as well as the speed with which it was pulled off. The idea started barely two weeks ago in an e-mail from Microsoft’s David Webster to several superiors, including Veghte. Given the green light, Microsoft started videotaping responses just last week, in San Francisco. The preview Veghte gave to CNET News on Wednesday was the first time the footage had been shown outside the company and its contractors.

The footage could get a public airing as soon as next week or even at Thursday’s financial analyst meeting, although plans were still in flux as of late Wednesday night.

With the success of Apple’s anti-Vista ads—Macs are up to an 8.5 market share now—I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Microsoft to get around to fighting back. Now the question is are the big enough to overcome “conventional wisdom”?

11 thoughts on “Microsoft uses Vista haters to demonstrate that Vista’s not so bad.

  1. I’ve used Vista quite extensively at work and I personally don’t like it.

    The main reason I don’t switch my home PC over to Vista is I don’t see a need to. It doesn’t offer me anything I want.

  2. The point being, though, that you’ve actually used the OS. It’s one thing to have used it and say it sucks, it’s another to just say it sucks.

  3. Sorry, I’ve used it (I know I don’t fit into the target audience), and you will never convince me it’s good. I’ve used it in a software dev environment, but from the user perspective, I cannot see that many of the so called enhancements (Aero anyone?) are anything other than window dressing (pardon the pun). If XP themes had actually been customizable for free, then there would have been no need for some of the user interface changes that Vista brought in (the Vista theme is annoying, the widget bar is asinine and could have been added to XP with little problem, checkboxes on list items is about useless, I have a list as long as both my arms and across my shoulders here).  Anyway, the only thing that is good is the increased security, but that is hardly transparent. UAC is possibly the most annoying part of Vista (anybody remember that Mac vs. PC commercial where the secret service agent restricts the PC from doing everything without answering the damn “Are you sure?” questions? It’s not a lie).  Of course you can disable UAC, but that sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

    In any event, I agree that if someone hasn’t used it, they should remain neutral until they have had a chance to experience the craptacular experience that is Windows Vista all for themselves.

  4. Vista is still a steaming pile of shit compared to Apple’s OS X.

    MS already announced they are going to try and copy more of Apple’s OS features.

  5. Folger’s coffee tried this same advertising ploy: “Wow, you mean this isn’t your gourmet coffee, it’s really Folger’s crystals instead?!”  But instant coffee, Folger’s included, still sucks.

    We have a lot of specialized applications in our build, and in tests Vista broke many of them.  We also found it had difficulties interacting with some parts of our AD network. 

    This Fall for the first time we are introducing some Apples in our main lab, dual-booting OS-X/XP.  A grand experiment.  XP runs extremely well on the Apples.

  6. What a deceptive “study”.

    They give some people a supervised tour of Vista, almost certainly running the apps they want people to run, and declare that “Vista is awesome”.

    I use Vista every day, and I only have three good things to say about the user interface: I like the widget bar, I like the new “save file as” system (with the shortcuts to navigate to desktop-documents-where_ever, and I like the fact that they did not eliminate the “Win 98 appearance” option like they said they were going to. (I HATE playtoy-looking systems.)

    Oh, and UAC isn’t really that big of an issue – for me, anyways. But then, I run as admin, (because some programs I use require it) so maybe my experience is different than normal.

  7. Oh, and UAC isn’t really that big of an issue – for me, anyways. But then, I run as admin, (because some programs I use require it) so maybe my experience is different than normal.

    Running as admin is about the only way I can tolerate that POS.  However, we cannot actually do that with our testing, and apparently when you create an administrator account in Vista, it’s not actually a full admin. Thanks Microsoft!

  8. Of course you don’t run into many UAC problems if you run as admin smile

    I have to admit it’s a good move to some extent, as it actually makes people aware what risks they expose themselves to when running stuff from trusted and untrusted sources as admin day in and day out.

    Anyway, I’m using Vista at work, XP at home. And I decided to go with XP when I changed my hardware at home to a basically completely new computer, and haven’t regretted it a day. There’s simply nothing Vista offers that XP doesn’t do better and with less hassle, with the exception of DX10 that doesn’t have any industry penetration in the first place anyway. Really, it’s gonna take a lot of convincing until I switch to Vista, if ever – I dare say it’s very possible that at home, I’ll skip it altogether.

  9. I wonder how much market share Apple needs before regulators start bringing anti-trust proceedings against them. 

    I wouldn’t mind a computer running OSX, but I like to play games now and then (more market share will mean more compatibility) and don’t want to pay a $500 premium over an identical PC to get Apple’s hardware.

  10. I love the annoyances of XP that are fixed in Vista, the little things. But anyone that likes Vista must not be doing a lot of Network type work on it. I had friends come over for a LAN party and we couldn’t share files on the network. I had them all set the Workgroup to the same thing (shouldn’t matter) we all turned on all file sharing stuff, and opened everything we could. But for some reason only 2 of us could access the file server at the same time. And it seemed to be a round robin as to which two got access. Sharing between computers was damn near impossible.

    My friends and I all like to think we are fairly proficient when it comes to OSs, computers, and networking. But Vista made us all feel really stupid, really quick.

  11. I run Kubuntu with Crossover and it runs MS Office just fine; it also ran WoW.  My home Kubuntu server networks just fine with the XP PCs I have at home and my work Kubuntu workstation plays just fine with the Windows crap at work.

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