Undoubtedly, damage was done to Vista's reputation in the early days after launch. And inevitably such damage was amplified by the "social networking" effect, particularly as a result of Apple's very effective Mac ads which poked fun not just at the platform but at the people that chose to use it.
How one recovers from a perception issue is an interesting question. Perception *is* ultimately more important than reality, at least where brands are concerned, and such negative perceptions taking a long time to shake off. A new Vista ad campaign has been much reported in the press. Then yesterday, Ina Fried on CNET News reports on an interesting experiment with XP users who had "negative impressions of Vista". An fascinating thought not altogether surprising outcome but will it help sway people? I fear not.
It's going to be a tough, uphill struggle and we (Microsoft) need to ensure we don't (regularly) shoot ourselves in the foot as we make the climb. A while back a customer challenged me on why I would choose Vista over XP. I replied:
"Many reasons. I run a number of machines and wherever I can I choose Vista. (I have, for example, a relatively old Windows Media Center PC which wouldn't run Vista successfully - there was a device driver issue resulting in the OS being swamped by interrupts so I had to revert it to XP). I like User Account Control very much and the fact I can easily elevate my privileges as required. This is just a pain to manage on XP machines. I also rely on the integrated search capabilities, the mobility centre, the way metadata is surfaced in Explorer. And I do like Windows Aero :-). All in all I just find most things easier to do in Windows Vista. That's not to say I think it's perfect but in my experience Vista has been solid, reliable, secure, productive and fast."
That last statement about "solid, reliable, secure, productive and fast" is the one I most often lose sight of. No question Vista is a better experience for me than XP. Yeah it does some odd things from time to time that make me roll me eyes but overall it's fantastic. I can't do any sort of comparison with a Mac, I don't own one and don't intend to. In any case this wasn't meant to be about Mac vs PC but Vista vs Vista.