Microsoft Mojave Creator: People Actually Like Vista

Windows Vista marketing/damage control effort

Last month, Microsoft gathered a focus group of XP users and told them they were getting a sneak peek at the next version of Windows, code-named Mojave. Users were asked to give their impressions of several Mojave demos, which were largely positive. Later, users were informed that the OS they'd just seen was actually Windows Vista.

In a Tuesday post to the Windows Vista team blog, David Webster, general manager of brand and marketing strategy at Microsoft and creator of the Mojave Experiment, said the actual Vista demos Microsoft showed to participants can now be viewed on the Mojave Website.

Microsoft's rationale for the project was to show that people's negative perceptions of Vista have been influenced more by what they've heard than by what they've experienced, and Webster suggested that the positive results of Mojave were a form of vindication for Microsoft.

"And the hypothesis was confirmed when across the board, participants concluded that they needed to take another look before simply accepting what they'd heard," Webster wrote. "Again, we know from lots of user and non-user data that the closer they look the more they will like it. We just needed to give them a reason to take another look."

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In fact, Mojave participants' response to Vista was so positive that Microsoft was unable to include a planned portion of the Website that would have shown some folks refusing to budge even after viewing the Vista demos, wrote Webster.

"In fact, we had plans for a fun section of the site that highlighted any test subjects who didn't change their minds about Windows Vista. But we didn't get any," Webster wrote.

Mojave is Microsoft's response to customers' and partners' desire to see the software giant fire back against the likes of Apple, which has been chomping away at Vista's image like a school of piranhas.

However, Webster said Mojave isn't part of the $300 million Crispin, Porter and Bogusky campaign, in which comedian Jerry Seinfeld will appear with Bill Gates in an upcoming series of television ad spots.

One component of Vista's challenge in getting more traction is that competitors have spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) around it, said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at twentysix New York, a New York-based IT consultancy.

"I do think the Mojave Experiment is an effective and necessary response to that prejudice, and therefore a necessary component in the campaign to make Vista more successful," Brust said.

However, the campaign needs to have additional components, including making the product more stable on recent -- rather than brand new -- hardware; working more closely with OEMs on driver support; and working with ISVs and other vendors on compatibility with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the product, Brust said.