Eggs and Oaths are Easily Broken
Quick synopsis of Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment: they duped users into believing that Vista was their next-gen OS, videotaped their (unanimously positive) responses, and put it out on the web as a marketing piece to convince people that Vista’s not so bad if you’d just give it a damn minute! Then they soundtracked the videos with Biggie Smalls’ “One More Chance.”
Marketers (and all human beings) are well trained to follow the leader. The natural instinct is to figure out what’s working for the competition and then try to outdo it — to be cheaper than your competitor who competes on price, or faster than the competitor who competes on speed. The problem is that once a consumer has bought someone else’s story and believes that lie, persuading the consumer to switch is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate admitting that they’re wrong.
Plenty of other writers have already pointed out the numerous failures of the Mojave Experiment as marketing, research and development, science, truth, etc. But in the context of Godin’s quote, what or who was MS trying to outdo with Mojave? Had to be Apple, didn’t it?
In the desktop OS market, Apple is MS’s only serious competition. What has Apple done in the last five years that MS hasn’t? They’ve delivered promises. Ignoring the recent debacle with iPhone 3G/2.0 and MobileMe (those aren’t in the OS space), Apple has provided usable, beautiful, innovative, stable versions of OS X to their users. Yes, there were often problems with the initial releases, no, they weren’t bug-free, but by 10.×.1, you could count on all the major features working. And by “major features,” I’m talking about the selling points of the OS: Exposé in Panther, Spotlight in Tiger, Time Machine and QuickLook in Leopard. (I was running Slackware before Panther, so I can’t say much about their earlier releases.)
Vista was a spectacular disappointment. Its current position is not a product of mob mentality or of the blogosphere or a few isolated complainers. Vista was universally rejected at home and in business. With Mojave, MS is trying to trick users into thinking that their promises were kept: Vista is fast, stable, easy to use, innovative, beautiful. You just didn’t know it! It’s deceitful and unfair. I’d be curious to know how many “subjects” involved in the experiment did buy Vista, only to discover later that they were right all along.
The soft underbelly of the MS beast is their monolithic approach to…basically everything. If Vista had been released in the same shape two years earlier — or even if they’d flexed their scope and delivered something stable and useful — users would have been more accepting, and by 2008 we might’ve seen people abandoning XP for Vista rather than the converse. Now it’s been almost two years since the initial release of Vista, and not even a year since Leopard. Whose developers will have betas in hand first: Windows 7 or Snow Leopard? (Hint: it’s the team with an actual product name.)
Oh dear, I’ve lost my focus. Time to stop.