Contrived Microsoft "experiment" gets headlines


If you haven't already heard of the "Mojave" experiment, then you will--likely in the next few days. Microsoft, not please with the reaction so far to Vista, set out to attempt to bolster the new operating system's reputation by offering a "blind taste test" of the OS. What happened? Exactly what I would have expected to happen--in a controlled environment, with no administration and setup tasks, people actually liked Vista. Why did I expect this? More after the link...

The problem with the "experiment" and the reason why it's contrived is that it sets up what is an unrealistic situation for most users.

So far, the mixed results for Vista have mostly come from people who are moving from XP or some other version of Windows. There's good reason for this, according to the early-adopter feedback, as the OS does not play well with legacy devices, and some software. Further, in the end of the day, it is just WIndows.

The true test of an OS is how far out of mind it is when you are trying to get real work done. The next most important test is how far out of mind it is when you are trying to do something "difficult". Although they haven't released the footage yet (it is coming July 29th at the Mojave Experiment website) "taste test" environment is not going to be able to test either of these. Why? Put simply, a taste test for an OS doesn't get to the important parts of what you need an OS for.

First, I'm guessing they didn't have your work software and documents on their "taste testing" machines. The whole idea that you can get any inkling of what kind of annoyance you'll see from the OS if you're not trying to do your every day work is just rediculous.

Second, most of what people are bound to be doing these days is looking at the web. If you have an opportunity to sit down at a strange computer, what do you do? You surf... you may go to YouTube or your online mail server (bad idea, because of keystroke capture, especially on PCs, but you may do it anyway), or you go to a news or industry site... but, in the day, you're "OS taste test" is a simple test of the web. What makes web experience good? Basically two things: internet speed and the browser. As much as people may complain about security and so forth for Internet Explorer, there are plenty of sites that are designed for it, and I'm guessing that every plug-in you would ever need was already installed on the "Mojave" test machines. Further, you can bet that Microsoft didn't skimp on the network speed... that'd just be foolish.

Third, biggest reports of annoyance with Vista come from problems with configuration and compatibility. Do you think that Microsoft is encouraging you to bring your 5 year old HP Network printer over to see how it works? I don't think so. Chances are they had no printers at all, and very little third party software, all of which was taking advantage of Vista features, and therefore highly compatible. Users were likely not allowed to configure the OS to handle the network, and even if they were, the entire environment was already configured for them by the testing organization.

In the end, people were likely given the opportunity to see the pretty eye- candy, see the speed of the HP Pavilion DV 2000 running on a nice Core Duo CPU with 2GB of RAM, and test the internet connection.

This doesn't sound like much of a test to me.

And, in the event that I jumped the gun and made bad assumptions based on the paltry amount of information provided by Microsoft and their minions, I'll come back and edit this after the footage and information is available on Tuesday.