Microsoft asks sceptics "What’s in a name?"

July 24, 2008

Microsoft has run a clever study that appears to show just how much of Vista’s woes are down to a poor public image. But some have questioned how representative it really is. Microsoft has run a creative study that appears to show just how much of Vista’s woes are down to a poor public image. But some have questioned how representative it really is.

The firm gathered together a panel of current XP users who have expressed negative opinions of Vista. The panel then watched a video showing what was billed as a new operating system, ‘Windows Mojave’.

After giving their opinions, with 90% of the panel having ‘positive’ impressions, the participants discovered the system was actually Windows Vista. Microsoft filmed the experiment and, as well as showing it to news.com staff, is considering using the footage in upcoming commercials.

News of the study comes as Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer told staff that Windows remains the firm’s top priority. In a company-wide e-mail he wrote “With SP1 and the work we’ve done with PC manufacturers and our software ecosystem, we’ve addressed device and application compatibility issues in Windows Vista. Now it’s time to tell our story.

“In the weeks ahead, we’ll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista. And later this year, you’ll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.”

However, there have already been complaints that the Mojave study is hardly representative. Those taking part saw the system in action, but didn’t actually get to use it. That means they wouldn’t have had any experiences of the issues that put some people off Vista, whether those be design flaws or intentional features which have proved unpopular. And the video would have told them little about how well Vista would perform on their particular computer set-up.

Perhaps the most interesting analogy came from a poster by the name of ‘martyfinkle’ who responded to the news.com story. He likened the study to the story of New Coke, which appeared to perform well in taste tests. However, it later transpired these tests only involved a sip or two and the drink performed much worse when interview subjects compared drinking entire cans.

Microsoft does have a perfectly valid point when it argues that people have a negative perception of Vista which isn’t always well-informed. But all this study really proves is that Vista looks good and has some impressive-sounding features.

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