Microsoft desperately wants us to like Vista.

Sean McNamara
3 August, 2008
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What happens when people see Windows Vista without realising it’s Windows Vista? This was the question Microsoft tried to answer with the “Mojave Experiment”, where people who had negative opinions of Microsoft’s latest and “greatest” operating system while never having used it were told they were getting a look at the “next” Microsoft operating system, Windows “Mojave”.

Lo and behold, it appears they all had Road to Damascus experiences, loved “Mojave” to death and were suitably shocked when they discovered that “Mojave” was, in fact, Vista.

All of this is documented on the Mojave Experiment web site, where interested parties can find footage worthy of Allen Funt.

However, all may not be quite as it seems. There’s an awful lot of doubling-up going on within the 55 pieces of footage which seems to call into question Microsoft’s ability to find a significant number of people to change their minds about Vista.

There are two overviews, several people shown twice (or thrice) and several “multiple reveals” (footage of more than one person discovering Mojave is Vista).

The remaining 40 or so individuals don’t even all get to say something positive — one guy just looks blankly at the workers who reveal that Mojave is Vista.

I’ve seen similar “I haven’t used it but I don’t like it” reactions to Mac OS X, especially in its early days (and to a lesser extent each time there’s an upgrade). However, Apple hasn’t had such vocal criticism from its users about Mac OS X the way Microsoft has had with Vista. Each version of Mac OS X has been better than the one before and often faster as well (on supported hardware). Time and time again what I hear from Mac users is that they love the way Mac OS X works, and Mac OS X users tend to be happier with the newer versions as they upgrade.

Vista’s been “in the wild” (viral analogies intended) for over a year and a half, and it seems Microsoft still can’t shake off the overwhelmingly bad vibes people have about Vista, and I don’t think the Mojave Experiment will change that much.

I know some Windows users, and those who have been lumped with Vista on their newer machines have overwhelmingly been underwhelmed by it. Quite frankly, they hate it. And that’s the problem with trying to convince people who have shied away from Vista to see for themselves: I think when the people are away from the minders and the scripts and the optimised computers and using it day-to-day, they’ll hate it as much as so many users who have already seen it for themselves.

Microsoft has suffered a lot of grief over Vista, some of it from users, some from the press, some from Apple, some even from its own executives — it’ll take a lot more than the Mojave Experiment to undo the damage each and every one of those sources of criticism has caused.

It’s not surprising Microsoft is trying hard to turn the tide of opinion on Vista. But to me, the Mojave Experiment seems desperate, ham-fisted, misdirected and ultimately doomed to failure because the problem isn’t people’s perception of Vista, the problem is Vista.

P.S. I thought it was interesting the Mojave Experiment web site uses Adobe Flash instead of Microsoft Silverlight — so much for Microsoft technology being better than we thought!

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