So after a long haul, Vista is finally hitting store shelves. I've been using it for a couple of months now and for the most part, I like it. I absolutely HATE User Account Control (and it's caused me some headaches I can't elaborate on for NDA reasons) and every once in a while Vista still crashes on me, though I think part of that may be because I'm running it on a computer I built (I should upgrade the power supply). But the UI is much improved (duh), I think the error-reporting took a big step forward and I've found that performance in most of my applications is quite a bit better (my stability issues aside). I've also come to really like the Sidebar and I hope more companies jump on that (I'm a big fan of the Twitter Gadget).
But for me, the most exciting thing about Vista is undoubtedly Windows Presentation Foundation. And you know what, if you cut through the Microsoft hype, sure, there are a lot of reasons not to upgrade. You can wait it out until the mandatory Service Pack 1 or jump over to a Mac and run your applications in Boot Camp or Parallels. But Vista sets a brand new bar for design and experience and it does so in a way that makes it very accessible to developers. With XAML, .NET and Expression Studio, you can create some fantastic applications that change how people think of user interfaces. Tim Sneath is going to do a series on great WPF applications and I suggest you keep an eye on that.
Vista opens the doors to a brand new development model in which design and experience take center stage and Vista becomes a blank canvas that makes possible 3D interfaces and rich internet enabled applications. I'm excited about Adobe's Apollo project for the same reasons. I can't wait to see what people are going to do with a medium like Flash in a cross-platform desktop runtime. But I also want to see what .NET developers and people who use Microsoft tools come up with. WPF is a great platform and it enables some great things. I've already seen some of these and now that it's out for the general public, I hope we see a lot more. We're all better off when experience wins and Vista is a huge step forward.
Update: I can't believe I didn't mention my Windows Experience Index. It's a 4.1 and you can see my breakdown below. My processor is dragging me down!