Microsoft Navajo (a.k.a. Vista): If you don’t install it, or configure it, or use peripherals, or care about performance, or aren’t bothered by dubious security warnings, and use it for just a few minutes in a controlled environment, then Vista is great!

Oh brother. Aside from the silly “flat earth” ad, Microsoft apparently has some simplistic ads in the pipeline about Vista.

Bottom line is that Microsoft took people who’d heard bad things about Vista, showed them a “new” OS called “Navajo” and they were impressed. Ta Da! Navajo is actually Vista!

This is similar to the old Folger’s ads where great coffee at an upscale restaurant was secretly swapped with Folger’s instant coffee crystals and nobody noticed! Or the more recent Pizza Hut ads were pasta dishes at a fine restaurant were actually supplied by the pizza chain. Does anybody really believe this stuff?

At any rate, the above ads relied primarily on the customer thinking they were getting something upscale due to their surroundings, but the Microsoft campaign simply ignores all of Vista’s issues! In other words, the very reasons for the bad press Microsoft is trying to dispel are completely ignored in the new campaign! From the article:

To be sure, the focus groups didn’t have to install Vista or hook it up to their existing home network.

Of course not. They didn’t have to use it long, either, or setup their peripherals, etc.

To put these ads in perspective, it’s clear they’re designed as if the typical bad Vista press goes like this:

The OS installed flawlessly with no interaction on my part, identifying my hardware on the first try. After the reboot all peripherals were identified and worked just as with XP. Installing my old apps was a breeze and they worked just as before. Performance was snappy (at least as good as XP) on my X-year old hardware. The system contains many productivity improvements that made my daily work faster and easier. More enjoyable, too. Security was much tighter, with the extra protection taking place in the background while I simply did my daily work. However, despite all the above I cannot recommend Vista because it’s kind of ugly and doesn’t really make me say “wow”. You should skip this and buy Mac OS X.

If the above was a typical Vista review, one could argue that this steaming pile of “Navajo” marketing made sense. Unfortunately, the typical Vista review pans it for the exact opposite of that imaginary review. Many people think it’s graphics, desktop, etc. are attractive. Big deal. Installation is bad, peripheral support is bad, it’s slow, it needs new hardware, the UAC security “warnings” are a joke, and at the end of the day there’s no six-year improvement on XP. The “Navajo” campaign will simply ignore that.

As one might expect, a campaign designed to ignore the actual reasons for Vista’s bad press and reputation meets with Paul “iShill” Thurrott’s complete approval. That alone ought to be enough to convince anyone what a sham it is.

Paul, of course, takes a shot at Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads and says they “lapse into outright lying”, yet this ruse out of Redmond is blessed and praised by the Window SuperSite.

Hey, Paul, if Apple did the same thing with MobileMe, showing a group of users who’ve heard bad things about it a controlled environment to disparage the bad press, while ignoring setup, mail, sync, and usability issues, would you approve or would you take Apple to task? Don’t worry, the question is rhetorical so there’s no need to spin a response. We both know your answer, and that differing view is the line between your Microsoft leg-humping and Apple bashing.

Meanwhile, I suspect this campaign will win over as many converts as the previously mentioned Folger’s and Pizza Hut ads did. I’m sure some people will be fooled, but it won’t be enough. Other people might be tempted to give Vista a try. Microsoft will not win most of those people over, however, because for them the truth behind Vista’s extra efforts for little gain over XP will simply be re-affirmed.


12 thoughts on “Microsoft Navajo (a.k.a. Vista): If you don’t install it, or configure it, or use peripherals, or care about performance, or aren’t bothered by dubious security warnings, and use it for just a few minutes in a controlled environment, then Vista is great!

  1. Some points here – Vista as a whole is much more configurable at user level than Mac OS X leopard. e.g.
    1. DPI setting – if you have hi res display (1920×1200 and up) you find that default fonts are way too small – in vista you can compensate by adjusting DPI value (to any custom setting) – In Leopard you simply can NOT! So you are stuck with fuzzy small fonts all around.
    2. In Vista you can switch off font smoothing (for those who think that crisp and clear is better than fuzzy – and I personally think this is logical) – in Leopard you can NOT!
    3. In Vista you can choose which one of 2 displays connected to a desktop computer is active and selectively switch off another. In Intel Imac (of which I am a proud owner) – you CANT! not to speak of a host of other settings available to you in Vista display driver, which are simply NON existant in Leopard
    I can go on – but on the whole it makes an impression that Apple took a more simplistic approach aimed at non-demanding users. Vista can also provide base for sofisticated and more intricate work-flows.

  2. This is an OLD, OLD way to advertise. Way back when I was a kid, there were TV ads where people were interviewed and given sandwiches some made with butter, others with margarine – and they couldn’t tell the difference! It was pathetic then and spawned tons of comedy sketches, from Benny Hill to Monty Python.

    The bottom line is that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. You can only go so far patching here, applying an addon there, sticking on a bandaid there, bunging a cork in over there to stop the leak and so on. Apple was having similar problems up until System 9. Then, with X, it did a complete and total rewrite from the bottom to the top with a Unix core. XP was Microsoft’s peak. They either need to start from scratch like Apple did, or just keep on selling XP. Most Windows users are satisfied with it – they don’t have huge demands on the whole and it works reasonably well.

    This is going to get interesting.

    John Davis

  3. Microsoft earmarks another $200 million for Windows advertising
    So they are going to spend $500 million (that’s half a Billion, with a capital B!) to try to convince people that Vista doesn’t suck.

    They’ll have to learn the Jedi mind tricks first… “You are not seeking those droids. Vista doesn’t suck.”

  4. This is what gets me… and what I’ll bet most people don’t think about. It’s likely that Apple has spent a lot less than $500 Million in developing Mac OS X. Yet here is Microsoft spending half-a-billion dollars to try to convince people that their OS isn’t crap when the whole world knows that it is.

    If Microsoft spent that $500 Million on software development to work up a new and better operating system it would be money well spent. But rather than actually spending that money to deliver a product that isn’t crap, they waste all of that money trying to sell Vista (which they & the world know is a turd). As if the problem with Vista not selling was because they didn’t advertise it enough, and not because Vista is a product that should never have been sold in the first place.

    If Microsoft’s Board of Directors had any sense, they’d have fired Ballmer and all of the other managers that came up with the idea of blowing half-a-billion dollars of the company’s money advertising a train wreck.

  5. Hi Paul,

    Declarations first. I am a home user of both Vista and OS X. This mail is written on a machine running Vista. I have been a Mac user for about fifteen years.

    Now, I personally like Vista much better than XP. It’s not nearly as bad as some people say. Looks better. Is now compatible with my peripherals and – though Windows/Mac networking has been more trouble to set up – it does the job. I’ve long been an advocate for an OS that looks aesthetically pleasing, as well as being functional – that’s one of the reasons why I use Macs, and was glad when Microsoft decided to be “inspired” by OS X in their Vista design. Good competition raises the bar in technology. Just look at the mobile market post-iphone.

    But the reasons for Vista being a slow starter must be laid firmly at Microsoft’s door. It’s simply a fantasy to imagine that its problems are merely the result of a poor misguided public being misled by the ‘nasty lies’ of competitors! A good product will shine through all the hype. But Microsoft – an extremely clever and resourceful company – have staggered me by their persistent corporate complacency and stupidity with Vista. To name but a few things:-

    The unbelievable delay in release
    The indecipherable pricing policy
    The jettisoning of Vista’s must-have features like WinFS
    The ‘Vista-Capable’ sticker fiasco
    The large graphics requirements of Aero

    The Vista mess didn’t happen overnight. It took continuous corporate errors and complacency over a period of years to get to this place. The hubris surrounding Vista was vast, so the fallout must be painful for MS. This OS began life as an unassailable franchise! It was Windows for heaven’s sake! Son of XP – how could it lose? The comments of Steve Jobs were most interesting at the time of Vista’s launch. He quietly expected OS X to face a mortal challenge from the new OS. So did I! But it didn’t happen. And this wasn’t down to Apple’s advertising voodoo. It was Microsoft shooting itself spectacularly in the foot! Giving Apple the best gift they could have hoped for.

    The advertising issue is an interesting one for me, as it demonstrates how slow Microsoft have been to understand perception and emotion as a key advertising strategy. I work in media, and have been amazed over the years at how such a huge and clever company like Microsoft can approve advertising and marketing which is too often lazy and just plain bad. Key to this misconception is the obsession with ‘features’ in their advertising, rather than human ‘benefits’. The comments above bear this out – with many outraged references to “lies” regarding various features of Vista.

    I’m sorry guys, but nobody out there cares! Apple’s get a mac campaign was a perfectly orchestrated piece of lifestyle advertising that literally personified technology to make a point. It was evil genius. Brilliant.

    You know what the real scandal was in those adverts? That Microsoft took sooooo long to understand what was happening, and why. If I were a shareholder of the company, *that* is what would worry me – not whether Steve Jobs pants were on fire.


  6. Here in Pittsburgh, as elsewhere, there is a restaurant/coffee shop chain called Panera Bread, where you can go and leech off their free wifi while having a Giant Cinnamon Roll. The atmosphere is very nice, the GCR isn’t bad and service is pretty friendly, so even though their regular food’s pretty ghastly I will go there often to hang out.

    In the last couple of months, I have twice talked to people with Windows laptops, and twice been told, entirely unsolicited, that Vista is awful.

    They don’t mind XP, are loyal Windows(tm) users, but Vista just is not their cup of tea. One of them had a friend who tried a Mac and suffered from eternal motherboard problems, so they are not exactly Macheads. Somehow Vista has just not given them what they want.

    One of them admitted that Apple ad where the guy keeps on saying “Cancel or Allow” is “very accurate”.

    Any ad campaign’s going to have a tough time with that.

    When I viisted a Best Buy to try out Vista, I saw their user friendly welcome screen, saying the Windows Experience Index was 5.4. Why was it 5.4, I wondered? What does that mean? Is it good? Bad? Awful?

    So I clicked on the help and in one second was in a world of incredibly fine print talking about graphics cards, CPUs and so on and on.

    Someone who thinks this is actually helpful for the typical person on the street is the type of person who believes Vista is user-friendly. I’m sure there are other examples of ghastly stuff in Vista, but you can find that one within 60 seconds flat of using a Vista machine.

    In the mean time, I finally got a MacBook Pro (having used a PowerBook G4 and PowerMac G5 for several years) and am delighted with it – it’s fast, smooth and the glossy LED display is stunning and almost bright enough to be easy to read in heavy sun outdoors.

    I guess I can run Windows now, and I may try Vista out of morbid curiosity. I somehow doubt my reactions are going to please Microsoft.


  7. Microsoft spent a lot more than $300 million dollars – some $500 million dollars plus on Vista’s roll out. It didn’t do them any good then, and less money now won’t do them any good now!

  8. I guess MS realized that they had all this cash to spend cause they can’t seem to spend it anywhere else(ie yahoo).

    I’ve used vista… I thought alright… lets give it a shot (friends computer)… boot, terribly slow…login, also slow. the only time it was fine was when I was just moving the mouse around. anything else like opening up “my computer” it lagged and made me wish I was on my imac.

  9. If I was a MS shareholder, and thank goodness I am not, I would be hopping mad. Who the hell are they (MS) listening to? It certainly isn’t their user base, and yet we, who have little interest really, are hearing all kinds of crap about Vista. And all they care about is the “perception” of problems. Someone has convinced them that all the have to do is $300 million of (questionably bad) advertising and all their problems will disappear?



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