Turns out some of Vista's strongest critics may not even know what they're criticizing.

Microsoft, the reigning OS king, has received more than its share of criticism for Windows Vista.  The OS, which suffered both from poor initial hardware compatibility and from relatively large resource demands has been shunned by many of the largest players in the business community.  Some have come out in vocal support of Vista, arguing against those who feel Vista is broken an XP downgrade might be in order. 

These supporters got a little more ammo to back their arguments thanks to a comical experiment put on by Microsoft.  As part of its new PR efforts, which include "anti-Mac Guy" commercials, Microsoft conducted a top secret experiment known as the "Mojave" Experiment.

Inspired by an employee email from Microsoft's David Webster, the Vista team gathered over 120 XP users in San Francisco who were critical of Windows Vista.  After being questioned on video about their Vista impressions, Microsoft told them it was giving them a stunning opportunity -- the chance to view their secret operating system they had been cooking up, codenamed "Mojave".  The excited users showed great enthusiasm for the new operating system, with over 90 percent giving positive feedback of the 10 minute demo of the system.

The comic twist is that there is no "Mojave" and it wasn't a pre-release version of Windows 7.  "Mojave" was simply a fictitious title applied to a standard Windows Vista install.  Interestingly, the XP users seemed utterly unable to recognize Vista or its features, despite criticizing it.  Remarked one user on the new features, "Oh wow!"

While it has been pointed out that the experience neglects to consider installation and networking setup, the "Mojave" experiment provides a strong case for the upsides of Vista analogous to the classic blind taste test advertising gimmick.  While Microsoft is still deliberating on how to incorporate the footage into its advertising campaigns, suffice it to say, it is coming soon.

Windows unit business chief Bill Veghte says big efforts are needed to step up Microsoft's image against competitors like Apple and Google.  He states, "We have a huge perception opportunity.  We are going to try a bunch of stuff."

Mr. Veghte points to the "Assurance" campaign for Vista launched earlier this month which offers free technical phone support for the first time.  While the move will likely cost Microsoft in the millions, many believe it will help Microsoft show that it is willing to support Vista fully, including when users encounter trouble.

Footage for the campaign was first revealed last week.  The site which they will be featured on is here.  The footage will be released to the public on Tuesday of this week.

However, trouble in Vista Mr. Veghte asserts, is a rarity and the main problem for the OS is perception.  Mr. Veghte is known to stew over Apple commercials on his morning jogs.  His decision to encourage Microsoft to commit to the massive new PR effort was finally solidified when he decided that Apple had "crossed a line" from factual to fallacious accusations.  Marketing vice president Brad Brook echoed similar sentiments, stating that Microsoft would be "drawing a line in the sand'

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO also shares these feelings, stating, "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, at the end of the day the Mojave ruse may prove a more valuable marketing tool than anything Mr. Ballmer or Mr. Veghte could say or do on their own, as it’s the voice of everyday users.

With rival Apple showing strong signs of hardware growth, fueled by its virulent advertising campaign, which many call factually questionable, Microsoft has decided to step up to the plate to challenge its assertions.  Mojave should be a key effort in this new campaign.  Mr. Veghte believes that the Vista team cannot wait for Windows 7 to change their fortune; they must attack now.  He states, "I've got to start having that discussion in the marketplace.  I've got to start driving that now. People feel guilty (about Vista). It's wrong."

Don't be surprised if you start seeing Microsoft "Mojave" commercials coming soon to a television near you.  

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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