It's hard to overcome perception by the masses. However, Microsoft is about to try to do that very thing by beginning a marketing campaign to counter Apple's commercials about the viability of its Apple products against Microsoft's operating system.

Speaking at the software monopolist's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Brad Brooks, Microsoft's VP of Vista consumer marketing, publicly confessed, "We broke a lot of things. We know that, and we know it caused you a lot of pain. It got customers thinking, hey, is Windows Vista a generation we want to get invested in? We've faced these challenges before, and we're going to solve them again," Brooks said. "There's a conversation going on in the marketplace today and it's just plain awful. We've got to get back on the front foot."

The company claims that 77,000 devices work under Vista today, twice as many as at launch, and that 99 per cent of the major business applications are compatible with Vista. For some people, they're saying it's about time; for others, they still don't care.

Customer service is a dicey proposition at any time, and the perception Microsoft gave when it released Vista is that it didn't care for its customers as much as its bottom line. It started out with their basic system needing way more power to work properly than most people already had on their computers. Sure, there was information out that told people they might need to beef up their computers, but not only did the general public not get that message, but apparently many computer makers didn't get the message either, as they installed Vista on new machines that weren't powerful enough to run it properly.

The next problem was their creation of four different versions of the same product, each one more expensive than the other (the initial version costs $300), but the initial version, the one they were marketing to the general user, didn't have any of the things that Vista was touting as the reason it was so special in the first place. That was disingenuous and condescending to its main customer base.

The only reason a company like Microsoft gets a free pass into getting another shot as often as it does is because it's still the big dog in the computer world when it comes to operating systems. Imagine most of us treating our customers with such disregard and being able to woo those customers back our way time after time as if we were the only ones who offered those products. It reminds me of Seinfeld and the Soup Guy; would any of us be ready to accept abuse time after time just to get a particular product?

We're not infallable, but we always need to make sure we try to put our best foot forward at all times when interacting with the customer, even when the customer isn't right. And who knows, maybe one day we'll all grow to be big enough to get away with customer abuse; if I do, I still won't do it.