I’ve been using Microsoft Windows before it was even a Window :-). But I can’t recall any operating system that has received such a negative reception as Vista has gotten. Yes. There have been problems when other operating systems were first introduced. Yes. We struggled with patches and fixes before getting things right. But I don’t recall Microsoft having to tell people that an operating system was not as bad as some people have made it. According to the article from Todd Bishop:

“Customers who are using Windows Vista are seeing it and really liking it, and having good experiences, and customers who aren’t are really negative about it,” said Greg Amrofell, small-business lead product manager in Microsoft’s Windows division. “We acknowledge that there’s a perception gap that goes on with Windows Vista in small business, but we’d also assert that, with Windows Vista, a little seeing is believing.”

I questioned that last claim. Amrofell’s statement isn’t supported by the phone calls and e-mails I continue to get from struggling Vista users whenever we publish something about the operating system.

These are people whose opinions are shaped by actually using Windows Vista — not by merely seeing Apple’s Mac vs. PC ads. Of course, people contacting a reporter aren’t a representative sample of the computing public. Happy Windows Vista users wouldn’t be as compelled to call. But a blanket assertion of satisfaction doesn’t seem justified.

Amrofell said in response that, according to Microsoft’s research, small businesses using Windows Vista are three times more positive toward it than those who haven’t actually experienced it. He said people may not have realized how the situation has improved since Windows Vista’s launch, particularly its compatibility with devices and software.

In other words, the company is offering the technical support as reassurance for small businesses, but downplaying the need for support.

It seems that Apple is having a bigger impact than I had imagined. Yes. I have seen the Apple vs PC commercials. But it seems that Apple has put a dent in how Vista is being adopted by small businesses. Or should I say how it is not being deployed by small businesses. Microsoft is now offering a new support program for small businesses to help them deploy the new OS.

But here is an interesting point of view:

Free support will be available only to small businesses that buy new PCs with Windows Vista. Microsoft’s Amrofell explained that small businesses typically make the transition to a new operating system when they upgrade to new hardware.

But in general, people seem to be at higher risk of experiencing complications with Windows Vista when they install it on existing hardware. If Microsoft really wants to display confidence in Windows Vista, it’s curious that the company isn’t extending the offer of free support to small businesses that upgrade their existing PCs to it.

Now that would have been interesting.

So what do you think? Will this new support get businesses to deploy Vista? Or will they wait for Windows 7 ? Switch to Apple computers? Or just keep what they got?

Comments welcome.