What we can learn from Microsoft Mojave

August 2nd, 2008 Posted in Usability

Microsoft MojaveFor the first time today, I saw in action Microsoft’s newest and possibly most important advertising campaign.  The campaign’s goal is to help mend the battered and bruised image of Windows Vista, the most unsuccessful release in Microsoft history.  Vista has become synonymous with failure, as its initial release was premature and incredibly buggy.  And even now, with most of the bugs squashed and an operating system that is clearly more polished than its predecessor (XP), Vista still has a huge image problem.

That brings me to the newest marketing strategy, thought up by a midlevel employee in the Microsoft ranks in early July.  Microsoft brought a large user group of XP users to test their “new” operating system “Mojave”.  The response was amazing.  Microsoft had its brand new, hit operating system, getting rave reviews from nearly every user.

What the user group didn’t know: That “new” OS was actually Windows Vista.  Less than three weeks after the testing, Microsoft has launched a massive image makeover marketing campaign.  Just today, August 2nd, I already have seen video from this user testing popping up in 300×250 banners on webmaster forums.

I think this story has quite a things we, as web developers and internet marketers, can learn.  First, and foremost, a first impression is all most people need.  If a visitor comes to your site and has a terrible first experience, it makes it very hard to bring them back.  Even a company with the reputation of Microsoft can be killed by bad user experience and press. It’s vital that visitors have a great first impression when using your site.

Secondly, a pretty interface doesn’t make an application or website. Even the early releases of Vista look amazing.  The graphics, interface, and “look” of the system were much more impressive than XP.  But looks alone don’t make the package.  It lacked in usability, creating error messages and not having a standard navigation schema.  Users didn’t know if they were to click a button, an image, or text to complete their task.  It is important to create a standardized and intuitive interface, as well as nice looking, so that users can navigate your site or application.

Thirdly, it’s important to test, debug, and never launch something that isn’t prepared. Microsoft was feeling the heat from Apple and felt it was losing ground, so it rushed out Vista and ended up with a huge mess.  The same can be said for your websites and applications.  Spend the time testing and debugging.  You won’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.

And lastly, perception is reality.  Internet marketing is all about creating the allusion that your visitors need your project or service.  It’s about perseverance and finding a new way to present your ideas and products.  Microsoft taught us a valuable lesson:  Even a multi-billion dollar company might not get it right the first time.  It is important to understand that a new way of doing things, a new spin, a new name, new colors, new packaging:  All those things can affect your bottom line.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and never assume that they way you are doing things is the best way.  Always try new things, test your methods, and continue learning.

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One Response to “What we can learn from Microsoft Mojave”

  1. Des Says:


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