Monday, March 10, 2008

Microsoft braces for a PR disaster

Since Windows Vista started shipping just over a year ago, there have been persistent complaints from users that have been disappointed by the performance of this latest version of Microsoft's PC operating system. Many users discovered that after they upgraded from Windows XP, their old printers and other peripherals didn't work with the new Vista.

Although Microsoft played down those early complaints and says that most of the missing drivers for printers and other devices are now available, the early complaints did have the effect of slowing the migration of some existing XP users over to Vista. Whether deserved or not, Vista is suffering an image problem and according to this article from the New York Times, it's going to get a lot worse, now that Microsoft's own executives appeared to share users' concerns prior to the office release.
Their remarks come from a stream of internal communications at Microsoft in February 2007, after Vista had been released as a supposedly finished product and customers were paying full retail price. Between the nonexistent drivers and PCs mislabeled as being ready for Vista when they really were not, Vista instantly acquired a reputation at birth: Does Not Play Well With Others.

We usually do not have the opportunity to overhear Microsoft’s most senior executives vent their personal frustrations with Windows. But a lawsuit filed against Microsoft in March 2007 in United States District Court in Seattle has pried loose a packet of internal company documents. The plaintiffs, Dianne Kelley and Kenneth Hansen, bought PCs in late 2006, before Vista’s release, and contend that Microsoft’s “Windows Vista Capable” stickers were misleading when affixed to machines that turned out to be incapable of running the versions of Vista that offered the features Microsoft was marketing as distinctive Vista benefits.
It's a fascinating tale. And from a public relations point of view, this could become a case study for how not to launch a new product.

Here's the link.

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