Microsoft's Mojave Reveals Vista 'Truths'

Mojave Experiment

In the videos, participants were asked to explain why they haven't upgraded to Vista yet, and their responses included "Just the bad things I've heard about it," and "I've heard negative things, but haven't tried it myself."

But when participants saw a demo of what Microsoft told them was the next version of Windows, code-named Mojave, many could barely contain their excitement.

"The speed is incredible," gushed one participant. "I need an upgrade, and that looks like everything I would need," said another.

Later, after participants learned that Mojave is actually Vista, they sheepishly acknowledged that their earlier negative perceptions of Vista weren't based in fact.

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"See how much I knew? Nothing," said one user. "Maybe it has more to do with the user than the application," said another.

Vista generated a lot of bad publicity and confused many end users, but Microsoft appears to be on the right track with Mojave, says Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider.

"The only way that we can really combat these issues is to offer personal attention and more training, just like the Microsoft employees did with their focus group," Fisher said.

According to Microsoft, 94 percent of the 140 focus group participants rated Mojave higher than they initially rated Vista before seeing the demo, and none gave Mojave a lower rating after seeing the demo. 84 percent of focus group members were XP users, 22 percent were Apple OS users, 14 were using pre-XP versions of Windows, and one percent were Linux users.

Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Microsoft Gold partner in Fresno, Calif., agrees with the premise of Mojave, but thinks Microsoft unfairly weighted the results in its favor by not including more Apple and Linux users. "I'd like to see the response from a mainly Apple and Linux weighted user base," he said.

Mojave isn't part of Microsoft's upcoming $300 million advertising campaign aimed at revitalizing Vista's image, but Duffy and other channel partners believe Mojave will help counteract the surprisingly strong impact of Apple's recent Vista-bashing ads.

"This is a creative throwback to the blind taste tests of the cola wars," said Duffy. "It's good to see Microsoft standing up for itself and creatively responding to the disinformation and and#91;fear, uncertainty, and doubtand#93; that's been thrown around about Vista."

Partners need to cut Microsoft some slack as it attempts to promote the Windows brand that has helped many VARs make money, says Vlad Mazek, a Microsoft Exchange MVP and CEO of Own Web Now, an Orlando, Fla.-based solution provider.

"No, they aren't going to stoop down to Apple's level of smugness, nor are they going to be able to present an overall unified platform, since they don't have one. But we need to let them try before we burn it alive before it's even had a chance to air," Mazek wrote in a Tuesday blog post.