Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment is now online. As I understand it, a group of people with negative perceptions of Windows Vista were shown a forthcoming version of OS code-named Mojave. In the cases Microsoft is choosing to present, they liked it much better – one woman scored Vista 0, and Mojave 10. Finally, it was revealed that Mojave was in fact Vista.
It’s a fun promotion and strikes me as a good effort in persuading people to take another look. Still, a few things puzzle me. The web page is somewhat frustrating, since to get all the content you have to click all of the little boxes – there are 55, but some repeat – but we still never see a complete video of what one of these subjects saw demonstrated.
I’ll describe one of them. Early on in her session (I presume), a woman is asked:
“Have you heard of Windows Vista?”
“Based on all the negative comments and frustrations I’ve seen my husband having to deal with I wouldn’t touch the thing,” she replies.
Now we get a snippet from the end of her session:
“Windows Mojave is actually Windows Vista”
“Oh is it [laughs] … Maybe it has more to do with the user than the application.”
I am going to defend her husband. Sure, users can be unpredictable and frustrating to deal with, but consumer software is meant to be “user-friendly” which means that if someone – and in Vista’s case, many people – have a negative and frustrating experience, then something is wrong with the software. That’s not necessarily Microsoft’s software; it could be third-party drivers, or lack of drivers, or the ugly stuff that gets bundled with a new computer.
Personally I moved to Vista back in 2006 and have never wanted to return to Windows XP. Then again, I did my own clean installs. I’ve also had problems including buggy display drivers flashing the screen, Windows Search causing painful delays in Explorer, stuttering sound with supposedly high-end audio cards, hours spent getting a new laptop ready for use, Explorer wrongly displaying files as music, Media Center corrupting itself, and network weirdness (today) which knocked me off the Internet. Finally, when I compared Vista and XP performance, XP came out noticeably faster.
Few computers operate entirely without problems. Even so, I’ve seen enough to understand why someone might get frustrated; and that’s with clean installs of the OS.
There’s not much wrong with the core of Vista, as demonstrated by the generally solid performance of Server 2008, and now by Mojave. That doesn’t excuse the numerous problems that have spoilt the release. Let’s hope lessons have been learned.