I repair PCs and see lots of M$ operating systems. "Vista" is crap in every version EXCEPT the most expensive "Ultimate" version.
IF your hardware can run it, and IF you buy the Ultimate version, there are two things M$ has done right in Vista.
1) Security is improved. My firewall and antivirus tools don't have much to do in Vista Ultimate.
2) It looks nice...finally.
I don't consider these two gains to be worth the price of "upgrading" even to the cheapest Vista, and certainly not at Vista Ultimate prices. Instead of buying Vista Ultimate and hardware upgrades to properly run it, I'd save money buying Mac.
Both security and looks are better in OS X...and cheaper. Both are better and far cheaper in any modern Linux distro.
When I set up dual boot of both Kubuntu Hardy and XP on a new HD recently, I was reminded of all the irritating things M$ KEEPS doing, and other OS's have outgrown.
a) ease of install:
OS install is not easy or simple for ANY computer NOVICE. However, linux is simpler, easier, and better explained. Hardware autodetection not only worked, but the drivers installed automatically, or after asking if I minded using a proprietary (nVidia) driver. I needed one reboot after copying the files and everything worked. Additional drivers (nVidia, and my scanner/printer) did not require any reboots. By comparison, I had to reboot my XP box after installing sound, graphics, network, printer/scanner. The NIC was the onlything that XP detected and installed on its own...but of course, it required a reboot anyway.
b) speed of install:
Even without all the time-wasting reboots for every 3rd party hardware driver, the Kubuntu Linux OS installed in half the time it took to get a grainy, VGA 640x480 XP screen so I could begin installing all the other drivers and software.
c) functionality out-of-box:
Installing XP I got: Wordpad, Paint, and of course Internet Explorer to make sure my PC did it's part in propagating viruses around the world. That's it. I lost count of how many 3rd party software installs required a reboot...
My Kubuntu install defaults with several (less vulnerable) web browsers, a choice of professional-quality office suites, security tools, encryption apps, multimedia playing and authoring tools, programming languages and editors for everything from C++ to HTML, and a wonderful software package handler that let me find, install, and upgrade anything the Kubuntu lads/lasses may have left out. NONE of these programs required a reboot on installing.
The software (both user-installed and out-of-the-box) is intelligently organized in the menus. All Office stuff appears in "Office." Ditto with Multimedia, Internet, Games, etcetera.
Kubuntu's package manager tells me when updated versions are available for ALL my software, not just OS service packs. I don't get pestered by every plug-in, the OS, the anti-virus, and every other piece of software one-at-a-time. It's all handled in the OS package manager. I can "hold" packages if I don't want to upgrade from a certain version...and never get pestered about that packages until I release the hold.
I've never seen a software upgrade from M$ or any other Windoze developer that was smaller and more optimized. They're always more bloated. It's rare to see upgraded Kubuntu packages take more space than the previous version. Often, the Kubuntu upgrades take LESS space. The difference is usually a matter of kilobytes rather than megabytes.
Recently, I replaced KDE3 (the desktop GUI) with KDE4. The new, slicker, transparent desktop interface is FASTER than KDE3. There are things I miss with KDE3; things I'm still getting used to in KDE4...and may NEVER prefer. It's different. Not all different is to my liking. But it's coded tight, and it runs faster even on my old 128m nVidia card when I've got most of the eye-candy turned on.
Micro$oft is losing all these areas. With the M$ money and influence there is no reason is should be lacking any ANY. While M$ bloats its code bigger and slower, Linux is optimizing and improving. Linux based netbooks recently achieved a 5-second boot (http://www.slashgear.com/five-second-boot-mod-for-asus-eee-pc-0618430/) on some of the cheapest low-end hardware currently selling. I much prefer this direction, rather than Redmond's mantra of "If we code big, they will (must) upgrade." Unless Windows7 starts to address all these flaws, Linux will erode more and more market share. As far as I can see, games like Grand Theft Auto are the only advantage Micro$oft still has.