So I decided to give Vista a fair trial - it couldn't be as bad as people were making it look, could it? Well, it does seem to be stable; I haven't had it lock up or do some typical Windows failure yet. But - aw geez, this is like the death of a thousand cuts.
User access control - what a joke. Run FOOBAR.EXE and get a popup warning you about it. So far so good - but where's the option to say that this program is known to be OK? They overlooked this little detail so every time you run that program you'll get the warning again (and again, and again). That's just plain stupid; has MS ever heard of a whitelist? One that isn't controlled by them?
OK, so let's say that FireFox and BitTorrent are installed. Download a file and it ends up where? Not where you expected - and not even in the same place from program to program. Was that USER\DOWNLOADS or was it USER\DOCUMENTS\DOWNLOADS? Or is it in some other unexpected location? The idea of virtualizing the download directories was good from a security standpoint - but it's a nightmare from the user's standpoint. I've got one recurring question - where did the damned file go?
Drivers are a constant problem. I've got expensive peripherals that don't work due to lack of drivers - and the vendors of those items don't feel the need to issue updated drivers. MS could have seen this coming and given us an option to use older drivers in a "compatibility" mode but no. Even new devices - right now I'm trying to pair a new Blackberry with this laptop using Bluetooth. 15 dialog boxes later I finally got the message from Vista that there was a "problem" with the device and that new (and unavailable) drivers were needed.
OK, so let me move on to the big issue here: in what ways is Vista superior to XP? If you count the "Aero" interface as a plus then that makes one. In every other way it offers nothing more - and often even less - than XP did.
Consider MIDI music for an example. I've got an external MIDI interface and a MIDI sound module - it should be possible to send all the MIDI sounds through that device, right? XP had no problem doing this; use the MIDI Mapper application to send the sound wherever you wanted. What Vista offers for MIDI reproduction is it's built-in software based Roland GS synthesizer. That's it - you CAN'T select any other MIDI device unless you manually edit the registry. Even if I could there's no Vista driver for the MIDI interface. Aw cmon, it's a USB peripheral; why on earth should this be a problem?
I could go on and on - there are so many annoyances and misfeatures that it's amazing to me that Microsoft sold it. It wasn't released as much as it escaped. If you're thinking of upgrading from a previous Windows version to Vista, don't do it! You'll be sorry; it's less functional and more annoying even though it's wearing a colorful clown suit.
Sheesh; this new laptop came with a trial of Office 2007. WTF were they thinking? Make people hunt for obscure options like "load" and "save"? It's even worse than Vista - rather than user-indifferent Office is user-hostile.
I don't think that Linux is quite ready for the desktop yet. But I'm sure that Vista is NOT suitable for the desktop. Avoid it!