Microsoft is mid-way on the road from Windows Vista to Windows 7, the next iteration of its Windows client, planned for availability no later than the end of January 2010.
And following the release of Windows Vista Service pack 1, Microsoft is finding fertile soil to unveil Windows Codename Mojave – or the Mojave Experiment. Windows Codename Mojave was masqueraded as the next Microsoft OS and was demoed to over 100 Windows XP, Mac OS X, Windows pre-XP and Linux users. In fact, it was nothing more than Windows Vista.
"For those new to the Mojave Experiment, it's a focus group effort we initiated a few weeks ago. We interviewed and polled 120 participants in San Francisco, in hopes of better understanding everyday users' perceptions of Windows Vista and seeing whether there really is a gap between perception and reality. We wanted to see how people reacted to Windows Vista when they were not aware they were seeing Windows Vista. We recorded our discussions, and today you can see them for yourself," revealed Christopher Flores, Director Windows Communications.
Mojave is nothing more than a small part of a much larger Microsoft strategy to not only get its own version of the story out on the market but "fight back" the bad aura that is sticking to Vista even after SP1, and negative, anti-Vista publicity made by rival Apple. The official Mojave website went live on July 29, 2008, and it features the reactions of the participants in the Microsoft experiment when they find out that the demo they just witnessed is of Vista and not the next version of the Windows operating system. None of the participants had contact with Windows Vista prior to the experiment.
"We did not use some geeked out or custom built PC. We used an HP Pavilion DV2500. It had 2GB of RAM and was running an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz. The OS was a 32 bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate. Of the 120 respondents polled, on a scale of 1:10 where 10 was the highest rating, the average pre-rating for Windows Vista was 4.4. After they saw the demo, respondents rated Mojave an average of 8.5," Flores added.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote:
Microsoft has today unveiled the “Mojave Experiment.” In case you haven’t heard, this is an experiment where the company took 140 Vista skeptics (who hadn’t used Vista themselves) and showed them what they believed to be a new Microsoft operating system, code-named Mojave. After the participants delivered their opinion of the “new” OS (which was almost exclusively positive) they were then told that Mojave was in fact Vista.
Prior to being guided through the OS by trained retail salesperson the average rating for Windows Vista was 4.4 (on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is rubbish and 10 is orgasmic, or something like that). When asked about their impression of Vista one participant said “based on all the negative comments, and frustrations I’ve seen my husband having to deal with, I wouldn’t touch the thing,” while another said that “it always crashes.”
After the demo the participants rated Mojave an average of 8.5, with one actually saying “Wow” and another saying that the “The speed is incredible.” When it is revealed to the participants that Mojave is in fact Windows, the most common reply seems to be “really?” Also, at least one participant does figure out that he’s being shown Vista and not some top secret new OS.
Note: The test rig that was used was a HP Pavilion DV2500 loaded with running an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz, 2GB of RAM and 32 bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate.
Now, on the face of it it’s easy to dismiss the Mojave Experiment as little more than marketing hyperbole. After all, I’ve been to plenty of demos given by trained staff that made a product look fantastic, only to later have hands on time with that product and find out that it sucked whole lemons. That’s what trained salespeople do. Also, this seemed like a guided clicking session where people are told clearly what they should be doing or paying attention to. It’s not like these folks were given a copy of “Mojave” and told to install it, or left to their own devices while they set up a printer or configured a network. These people were watching Vista, not using it. Also, Microsoft hasn’t released unedited versions of the videos, so it’s safe to say that the best bits have been picked.
But, it is interesting how no one reduced their score on being guided through Mojave/Vista, and maybe this tells us a little about what’s wrong with Vista (or at least the impression that people have of the OS). See, these 140 participants were guided through what I assume were Vista’s highlights, and this helped boost the average rating by 4.1 points in 10 minutes. When you get your hands on Vista for the first time there’s usually no one there to guide you through the OS, showing you the new games, the photo preview feature, what the Sidebar can do, how to make DVD, how to use the Flip 3D feature, how Instant Search works, how to set up Media Center, what’s new in Administrative Tools or anything and everything else. You’re on your own. As operating systems become more complicated and have more features, it’s easy for the best features to be hidden from view, and sometimes all that’s needed is a helping had to bring those features out into the open. I can think of one ad campaign that does this, and in my opinion does it well - the ads for the Apple iPhone.