Microsoft recently conducted an undercover test to determine public response to the controversial new Windows Vista operating system. "If people could see Vista first hand, they would like it" is the premise that Microsoft tested last month in what it calls The Mojave Experiment.
Our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk reports that around 120 people in the San Francisco area who had given Vista a low rating in product focus groups were invited to look at a "new" operating system codenamed Mojave. Without knowing it, the participants in the testing were actually looking Vista.
"Some people have asked if Mojave is the big marketing project we're working on - it's not," blogged Chris Flores, a director of Microsoft's client communications team.
"The Mojave Experiment is just that: an experiment we conducted on the fly that yielded interesting results."
The 120 respondents gave Windows Vista an average rating of 4.4 out of 10 before the test, but after seeing Mojave demonstrated, they awarded the experimental version 8.5.
"We wanted to see how people reacted to Windows Vista when they were not aware they were seeing Windows Vista," said Flores. To share the results, Microsoft has created a glitzy site boasting 60 separate user videos and facts and figures to emphasize Vista's speed, functionality and usability.
More than 60 comments followed Flores's post, with sentiments running roughly 60:30 against the exercise. "Woah. The salesperson ran the demo?" commented Barbara Walsh. "The participants simply saw a canned demonstration? Oh how low the mighty Microsoft marketing machine has fallen. You could perform this same routine with any operating system and people would wow all over it."
Unless Microsoft attempted a genuine experiment where users could attempt to do their normal daily work with Mac OS-X, Linux, XP, and Vista, the experiment would have little validity. "Let's see them rate Vista after all that, otherwise this whole exercise is a complete bust and the time wasted could have been spent on much better things."
InfoWorld blogger Randall Kennedy also gave the Mojave experiment the thumbs down, claiming that it proved once again that Microsoft doesn't care about the enterprise desktop anymore because it's too busy obsessing over its perception in the consumer market.
"Windows will never be hip like the Mac," he concluded. "And, frankly, with a billion seats and the lion's share of all desktop software worldwide, it doesn't have to be. So why keep acting like a bunch of awkward geeks trying to hang with the cool kids in the high-school cafeteria? The Vista 'teen angst' story is getting stale. Time to grow up and start acting like the world's most important software company again."