Windows 2000 looked and felt a whole lot like 98 until you started working with it. I haven't used it yet so I can't vouch for Microsofts innovation, but after the lesson they learned last time I'd be careful to judge the OS based on outward similarities to Vista.
I'll also point out that a lot of people like the feel of vista, it's just the constant security authorizations, glitches, and performance/compatibility issues. Those things can be fixed completely independent of the GUI, and I wouldn't expect Microsoft to make any major innovation to their interface for at least 3 more years. Unless multi-touch really takes off.
I agree, but the new can be deeper than the GUI. They've done a really serious rehash, once you've used it for a while you'll see that. If you like vista or not there's no denying that it had some issues at release, Why should they try to start from scratch and go through the same thing again when they have a usable foundation to build off of?
Everybody thought XP was new, it was virtually Identical to win2k with a new color scheme and a couple of extra "wizards".