The Mojave Experiment: A Vista Love Fest

Microsoft today announced the results of its Mojave Experiment survey, which gauged user reactions to Windows Vista in a supposed blind trial using hidden cameras. The trial polled 120 users in the San Francisco area who had an initial "unfavorable" view of Vista.

Unfavorable meant giving Vista an initial average rating before the experiment of 4.4 points out of 10 total points.

During the experiment, participants were shown a demo of a so-called "Mojave" operating system, which was really Vista without the identifying logos. Of 120 participants in the experiment, the average user rating of Vista was 8.5 positive after viewing the demo, according to Microsoft.

Most of the Mojave Experiment participants were Windows XP users (84 percent), with some Apple OS (22 percent) and other OS users in the mix. The trial was administered by a "trained retail salesperson," according to Microsoft's Chris Flores.

The existence of the Mojave Experiment was unveiled during Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting on July 24. Analysts at the event saw a video presentation of the Mojave Experiment's findings but it was blacked to those listening online. Microsoft now provides a Mojave Experiment public site to view the survey results as part of an overall marketing presentation promoting Vista.

Microsoft has sold around 180 million Vista licenses since the operating system launched, which is "very balanced across both consumer and enterprise," said Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Services & Windows Business Group, speaking to the Financial Analyst Meeting crowd.

The Mojave Experiment addressed consumer interest in Vista. At the enterprise level, the numbers are clear. Vista adoption in the enterprise has barely edged up over the year or more of its existence. Vista adoption in the enterprise still remains in the single digits, according to a recently published Forrester Research study.

Microsoft's Flores attacked the author of that study, Thomas Mendel, for saying that Vista had been "rejected" in the enterprise. Flores said that Forrester was "schizophrenic on Windows Vista," citing a more positive study written by Forrester analyst Ben Gray.

For its part, Microsoft plans to address Vista's "bad image," often attributed to negative press accounts.

Microsoft's Corporate Vice President Brad Brooks told the partner crowd attending the company's Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month that Microsoft planned to defend Vista against its critics. The company also plans to invest more funds into Vista marketing to combat Apple's ads, with about $300 million being the estimated budget.

The Mojave Project is not part of that new spending plan, according to veteran Microsoft watcher, Mary Jo Foley.

Microsoft's reactions may seem a little like overkill. Its Windows operating systems accounted for 91 percent of all operating systems used in 2008, down from about 93 percent in 2007, according to Net Applications' Market Share report.

The next runner up, Apple, had an OS share of almost eight percent, up from a little more than six percent in 2007, according to the report.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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