Microsoft demoed a new operating system called Mojave to Vista haters. They loved it. Surprise! It was Vista the whole time. How much does the perception of a product drive the reality of the marketplace?


Marketers spend billions of dollars every year trying to influence our purchasing decisions. They’ll do just about anything to separate us from our budgets, but most of the money is spent trying to build up an image of a product in the purchaser’s mind. Product X will make you feel better, be smarter, save money, or get “lucky.”

In a marketer’s mind, perception becomes reality. The goal is to get a good image of your product in a purchaser’s mind or, failing that, a horrible image of a competitor’s product. Done properly, the sweet smell of success or the stench of failure will attach to a product and marketing dollars will become less important.

Bait and switch

Take Windows Vista for example. Since before it was launched, it has suffered from a horrible image. It’s bloated. It’s slow. It’s buggy. It’s not secure. It’s hard to manage. On and on and on.

Some of this image has been driven by a disappointed computer press. Part has come from competitors, such as Apple, who have been lampooning Vista since Day 1. And another part comes from Microsoft haters who would love to see Redmond be reduced to a pile of rubble and the rest of the planet running something else — like Linux.

What if Vista really isn’t that bad though? Microsoft recently debuted a new operating system called “Mojave” to a group of skeptics. Mojave received favorable reviews from aboutd 90% of the group. Turns out that Mojave was really Windows Vista. Separating the prejudice of the name of the product from the reality of the software, people actually liked it.

How much does perception drive your reality?

Ideally, we wouldn’t make purchases without fully exploring and testing all the options. Unfortunately, there’s not time or money available to do so. Instead, we often build our own perception out of a mix of marketing, reviews, and anecdotal reports from others. Where it makes a difference, however, is whether we allow these perceptions to drive the final decision or we actually look past them and do a little bit of examination.

I think the best course of action would be to take the perception into consideration, but the only way you can truly make a proper decision is to actually do some testing. Using perception may be a good way to weed out obvious bad choices, but once you’ve eliminated the first round, you need to have something more solid to base decisions on.

Theoretically, that’s the best way to do it. Unfortunately, it seems like too often we make knee-jerk decisions about just about everything based more on perception than on fact. I guess that’s what keeps marketers in business.

What about Vista?

What do you think? Is Vista really a train wreck or has it just been suffering from a combination of Microsoft hate, bias, and misperception?