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Bizarre: CNet writer claims that Windows 7 must have geek support or else

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I mentioned in a post on blogging yesterday that when you have a differing opinion, it’s always best practice to play the idea and not the man when arguing against something. So I apologize in advance, because sometimes a post is so out of touch that you can’t avoid playing the man and the ball.

CNet’s Don Reisinger has delivered a post so bizarre it needs a serious response. In “Windows 7 must appeal to geeks–or else” Reisinger argues in 882 words while keeping a straight face that the key to success for the next version of Windows is keeping geeks happy, because geeks took down Vista. It gets better, because according to Reisinger most people are retarded and look to geeks for advice or get their news second hand from geeks, ipso facto geeks are the center of the universe and geeks will make or break Windows 7.

Now there’s probably a decent case around supporting the notion that geeks should inherit the earth, and how much better we’d all be for it, but that isn’t the case today, and it won’t be tomorrow, next year, or 2020…whenever Microsoft launches Windows 7.

Geeks didn’t bring down Vista, Microsoft did. Geeks were not the root cause of all the bad stories about Vista, the product was. Geeks may help Microsoft sell Windows 7, but the main selling point will be the product itself.

Even in the post Reisinger contradicts himself as he mentions the negative press coverage. The thing he misses is that journalists don’t necessarily equal geeks, even if some of them are. We agree on the point that the wall of negative press contributed to the negative perceptions in the general population, but there’s no great big arrow saying geeks did this either.

We know why Vista failed. Vista failed because it was a poor product when it was released. It lacked support for hardware, software, and if you didn’t have a brand new computer with it installed, it sucked even more. I should know, I switched to being a Mac user because of Vista…and I’m probably a geek, and I couldn’t handle the problems Vista had. Reisinger contends that bad news is fed from the top (being geeks) down, but he ignores the simple fact that most of negative word of mouth came from people who tried Vista themselves, the great unwashed of non-geeks. Hands on use outside the non-geek community was the killer, because basic logic would dictate that most geeks would be able to deal with Vista issues when they arise, non-geeks can’t, at least at the same level. Vista was a crisis in end user usability that gained bad word of mouth from the bottom up, not the other way around.

Reisinger quotes the Mojave Experiment as proof of his point, and yet I don’t recall seeing geeks in those commercials. The Mojave Experiment was an ad campaign aimed directly at the general population that tackled the negative word of mouth THEY had been sharing, nothing a geek had said or done.

Reisinger then argues that the key to Windows 7 should be paved with geek reachout, or “Make sure the geeks love it” as he says. But nothing could be further from the truth. While keeping everyone onside is an obvious marketing and sales strategy Microsoft should and will follow, the key to success in Windows 7 is split between corporates and consumers, with geeks off to the side as an afterthought. The primary objective is to get the product 100% right the day it launches. The second objective is to present a sales case to corporates and consumers. While the natural inclination in most companies is to target the corporate space first, Microsoft’s split and revenue streams are strong on both fronts, so both need to be included. They need to get Windows 7 onto corporate desktops ASAP to expose consumers to the product. By the time 7 launches, many corporations will have been running XP or even 2000 for an exceptionally long time, and if they cut off XP support, 7 will be a natural progression path. For consumers, it’s about end delivery and ease of use. Microsoft needs to borrow the Mac line of it just works, and immediately create positive word of mouth. It’s a fresh start, and done well it will save the Windows franchise.

We also have to accept that Reisinger’s view of the great unwashed technologically retarded outside the geek space is incorrect:

The one thing I don’t understand about Microsoft and countless other companies in the technology industry is why they don’t realize that the influential people are not the average John and Jane Doe. Instead, the technology industry is dominated by a select few who tell their friends and family why a certain product or service is useless.

That may have been the case 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but it ignores a simple fact that today most households have a computer, many have more, and most have internet access. That is not to say that some have more knowledge than others, and that turning to a relative or friend with a higher understanding of technology isn’t a common occurrence. But Reisinger ignores the fact that in 2008, most families have a base level of technological understanding and knowledge that 20 or even 10 years ago would have been thought impossible. Most people can insert a DVD is a PC and use it. Most can install a program. Everyone with internet access can open a web page. Where as when I was 12 one of my teachers suggested that submitting an assignment typed on a computer may have been cheating, today kids have laptops in class. The base line today is that nearly everyone in the western world knows how to use a computer, and they are able to form an opinion independent of a geek elite. Windows 7 will be a sales challenge, and with a great product they will win this segment even if every geek on the planet says its sucks.

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Comments

4 Responses to “Bizarre: CNet writer claims that Windows 7 must have geek support or else”

  1. boe

    I disagree with your take and agree that geeks do indeed impact MS. The geeks are the ones who decide what goes on corporate desktops. If your IT department says we're sticking with XP because Vista sucks – what do you suppose that home PC buyer is going to want on their home PC. If the IT department says Vista is too slow or MS should have listened to beta users and they could have had a good product – what do you suppose MS should have done.

    While OSX is a very good OS and clearly mac market share is increasing after the fiasco that was Vista, since it doesn't even have 20% market share – clearly the corporate market dictates what the consumer market is as well.

  2. Owen

    Networking theory contradicts your arguments. While people do indeed network and share their opinions, but everything filters through nodes in any network, and these nodes are mostly geeks. Not the high level geeks writing online articles, just the ones who talk to each other and everybody else. This occurs in any network, especially in social networks, and the wise marketing man should know this and exploit it.

  3. Ed

    Geeks or not, Vista fails because at the end of the day, what is important to people is the applications. Microsoft never shows a follow-up interview with those featured in the Mojave Experiment, when they moved back to XP after their favorite app didn't work, or they tried it on their current PC and found it didn't have enough horsepower.

    Certainly many, if not most early reviews come from geeks. To the non-geek user, playing with beta software is just not a priority. But frankly, we see many products that stay in geekland, without widespread consumer adoption, even with glowing reviews. Many geeks love Linux, but find they need to run Windows. Why? Its the applications that are important, not the OS. If an application doesn't run, or runs exceedingly slow, then no amount of hype, geek or otherwise, can counter the needs of the consumer.

  4. Syonix

    You are %110 correct sir.
    I am a certified geek, and i have dozens of people who buy or not buy pc products based on what i tell them
    Guess what, They are ALL still using XP.. why.. not because they saw vista, because I saw vista, and it sucked.
    wake up.