OK - I know this subject has been beated to death: Microsoft's Vista, which has been years in the making. Well, they've has finally released it, so now we all get to see how well it sells. My thoughts on it? I'll try to say some stuff which I haven't mentioned already.
I have to complain about the many different versions of Vista - there's essentially 8, if you count both upgrade and full versions. Literally, too much choice is a bad thing. For reasons on this, I suggest you check out Joel's entry on choices in Vista. The thing that bugs me is that you can't just walk into the store, grab any old copy, and simply INSTALL the operating system. No - instead you must decide whether you need Ultimate, Business, Home Premium, or Home Basic. THEN you need to choose upgrade or full version.
Secondly, why is Aero excluded in the Home Basic addition? In my opinion, Aero is what makes Vista look next-generation, so it should be promoted in all versions - not just the high-end ones. The difference will just make it harder to give instructions, and make many obvlivious users mad that they didn't get Aero. Ironically, the groundbreaking interface can be had on Windows XP if you download the right tweaks and mods. So then what is Microsoft trying to gain by withholding the interface? Never before have I seen a new GUI withheld from a new operating system because the user didn't buy the "Premium" edition.
One thing that Microsoft doesn't go over in much depth is what kind of productivity tools it includes. They seem to think that everyone will buy Microsoft Office, but I'd like to know what you can do if you just install Vista, and don't have any software. True, operating systems by definition simply run other programs, but in this day and age they are expected to come with software to make them useful. Now I know I'm not comparing apples with apples, (nevermind the pun) but shouldn't Vista boast productivity software, especially business-aimed software for the business version of Vista, student software for Home, etc.?
I also have to complain that we don't know that much about the core of Vista. Microsoft neglects to mention it, and it just seems like a tweaked XP core. Not that Windows NT was a bad core; in fact it was very good. But I think it's time for a core change. At the moment, Microsoft has basically slapped a whole bunch of features onto the old NT/XP core. It's probably because they want the OS to look flashy, and it's much harder to demonstrate superior kernel features. Looks sell first, but believe me, it's what sells in the end.
Good things about Vista? It looks new and fresh. Aero is a main contributing factor, but this new generation of Windows boasts many other important OS features, some more flashy like Flip 3D, others more useful like an advanced search. (Aside: this is my main complaint against Leopard; it looks too much like Tiger.) Things should look new and next-gen to convince people to upgrade. And Microsoft has done this.
I also have to congratulate them on the fact that they were fairly original in terms of design in the OS. Many people complain that Aero was a remake of Aqua (look at the Wikipedia entry of Aero and you'll notice the biased-ness of it ;)). However, I do not think this to be the case. Transparency has been in Windows for quite some time already, and Microsoft has simply applied this more than it has in the past to create a beautiful interface. Much of their features are not new, but they do not seem to be directly copied from any particular OS. And that's they key to a good product: as long as you apply good features in an easy- to-use interface, it will sell. iPod proves this, as it's neither groundbreaking in terms of features nor is it very inexpensive, yet it's popular because it just looks cool and is easy to use. I expect this to be the case with Vista.
So now some of you may be wondering whether I am going to be buying Vista. Well, at the moment I'm using a MacBook, but that probably won't stop me. I'm very interested in Vista at the moment because of its interface, and hopefully its developing capability (which unfortunately has not been talked about much by Microsoft). I have a copy of Visual Studio 2005 Standard edition, and I plan to use this on Vista once it becomes stable and has proven itself in the long run.