For a while now, Apple has been poking fun at [Windows] PCs in it’s Mac vs. PC ads. The ads are usually funny – just not very accurate. I really wanted Microsoft to come back with something and they have. Not as humourous – frankly a bit “corporate” – but, nevertheless, the first phase in a $300m campaign is “The Mojave Experiment”.
You see, Windows Vista is doing fine. It’s sold 180 million copies and, comparing percentage market share, Vista is up on where XP was at the same point in its lifecycle but it has suffered from some very bad press. Ironically, it’s harshest critics are the same journalists that think Windows Server 2008 (basically the same core OS with a different feature set) “excels in just about every area […] in contrast to Vista” [Jon Honeyball, PC Pro, February 2008].
The trouble is, that perception is reality. The word got out that Vista was a heap of junk and it spread. Sure, there were some problems when it first released – and that’s one of the reasons it shipped to corporates (who generally run a well-tested desktop image on a limited set of hardware) before it was released to consumers. Lack of device driver support is hardly Microsoft’s fault – they spent 5 years getting Vista ready (and talking to hardware vendors about the device driver model all the way through) – sadly though, the lack of driver support became Microsoft’s problem.
After more than 18 months of bad press, Microsoft figured that if people saw Vista first-hand they might actually like it. They took a bunch of people – average PC users – and asked them what they thought of Windows Vista. They hated it. Most of them had never seen it, but they’d heard it was bad. Next, in an attempt to challenge their preconceived opinions, Microsoft showed the same PC users the latest version of Windows – “Windows Mojave” – and they loved it. Then they were told that Windows Mojave was Windows Vista.
The “Mojave Experiment” website was launched yesterday (although it had been previously reported by CNET and others) and it’s worth a look, although I’m sure true sceptics will still regale stories of obscure things that didn’t work for them on their home-brew PC [or perhaps they’ll just resort to calling me a Microsoft fanboy…].
So, what went wrong with Vista? Well, two years ago, I said that the marketing message wasn’t good enough – and, on the whole, I still don’t think that Microsoft has done a great job of articulating the benefits of Vista. Hopefully this latest campaign will help. Sadly, I have heard many customers say “we’re skipping Vista and moving straight to Windows 7”, like they think that’s going to make the job of dealing with their legacy application compatibility issues any easier. In fact, I believe that the answer for corporates is not a wholesale move to the next (or the next, next) operating system release, but a system of managed diversity.
I’m tired of hearing certain sections of the IT press refer to Windows Vista as Microsoft’s latest Windows ME. ME was awful (and anyway, business users should have been running NT-based operating systems, not Windows 95/98/ME) but Windows Vista is a good operating system. Really. I can honestly say that, running on modern hardware (not necessarily a new PC), I have had no significant issues with Windows Vista. It may not be a necessary upgrade for everyone (if you’re happy with your existing XP installation, then sticking with XP might be the right thing to do) but there really is no need to avoid Vista entirely, or to deliberately downgrade.
â€œFor the majority of Microsoftâ€™s […] customers, there are very few reasons why Windows XP should be deployed on new PCs in preference to Windows Vista.â€
Don’t just take my word for it: see for yourself; decide for yourself.