Microsoft Tricks Users Into Praising Vista

Thursday at Microsoft's financial analyst meeting, Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Windows, revealed that Microsoft recently conducted focus groups with a pool of XP users who had negative perceptions of Vista, but hadn't actually used it or seen it in action.

Originally reported earlier this week by Microsoft blogger Ina Fried, the XP users were told they were getting a sneak peek at the next version of Windows, code-named Mojave, and were asked to give their impressions, which were largely positive. Later, users were informed that the OS they'd just seen was actually Windows Vista.

Veghte showed video of the focus groups to financial analysts, which shows users reacting to the Vista demo with exclamations such as "That is awesome," "Seems like everything is there," and "My system is boring compared to that. Everything is right at your fingertips."

After realizing they'd been "punked," several users sounded as if they'd be heading out immediately to buy a copy of Vista. "Actually it's totally different than I heard it would be like," said one user. "It's an awesome program you have to see for yourself," said another. "It is something I would want now," said a third user.

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Of course, some solution providers that sold and supported Vista PCs in the months after its release might have a different view. But even within Microsoft's channel, there's a rising chorus of Vista defenders who say Vista service pack 1 has fixed the nagging issues and finally positioned the OS as a viable option for businesses.

At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month, executives drilled home the message that it'll take a collective effort between Microsoft and its partners to change peoples' perceptions of Vista. Veghte said Microsoft sees projects like Mojave as chances to make headway in this fight.

"That's our opportunity. Perception vs. reality, that's a conversation that we've got to go have with our customers," Veghte said.