So Microsoft conducted an experiment where it put 120 regular computer users (but Windows Vista avoiders) in front of a Vista-based computer and told them that it was a hands-on, sneak peak at the next Microsoft operating system, codenamed “Mojave.” As it turns out, 94 percent rated Vista much higher after seeing it. On a scale from 1-10, the participants’ average rating for Vista before was 4.4, and the average rating after seeing Vista (but not knowing it was Vista) was 8.5.
I thought it was a decent way of showing the negative side of the “network effect.” Vista had lots of issues at its launch (many of which are fixed now) and plenty of people were pretty vocal about their negative experiences. Combine this with Apple marketing pumping out PC-bashing ads, and you have lots and lots of people who’ve heard about Vista but never tried it due to the perception created around them.
Microsoft has just shown us (videos of this experiment are public now) how much perception really matters… or so I thought. The tech blogosphere still isn’t convinced, with plenty refusing to give this any credibility. There’s Techdirt’s title of “Microsoft Plays Practical Joke On People To Convince Them They Like Vista” and Engadget’s “Mojave Experiment goes live, doesn’t fail to annoy.” Plus, Crunchgear calls the experiment “kind of dumb.” And even Cnet is hesitant with its take by saying, “there is a huge difference between seeing what amounts to a short demo of an operating system and actually having to install new software, work with existing devices, and do the kinds of everyday computing tasks we all do.”
In fact, that Cnet quote sums up the main issue the techie skeptics have. Well, that and the fact that the experiment wasn’t scientific enough. But does it need to be more scientific to prove the perception point?
Say Microsoft did a more scientific approach with users taking it home and using it for weeks at a time after being used to something else. We’d then need to test it against other users taking home some other OS and installing/testing it after being used to something else, right? Change can be a pain. And I’m not convinced that for the average home computer consumer that changing to Windows Vista (from whatever) is any more painful than changing from Windows to OSX or Windows to Linux, especially if we’re talking a change with no new hardware.
Of course, I could be wrong, but where’s the “scientific approach” that tells me I’m wrong? Oh, wait, there isn’t one. There are just cute Apple ads and a vocal techie crowd that feels like their anecdotal first mover experiences supersede the very same scientific approach that they demand from Microsoft. And the irony is that this type of behavior being used as ammo against Vista’s current state for the home consumer is little more than the perception Microsoft is showing us is so prevalent among the Vista avoiders out there.