1. Do not listen to "experts" talking about Vista
2. Try to stay away from Paul Thurrott's "super"site. This is the person who compared Windows Vista Beta 1 to Mac OSX "Tiger" (i.e. a first beta to a complete, released OS). I am sorry Paul, you need to find some logic and cram it into your head.
3. Watch all the channel 9 videos on Vista. There is a lot of new stuff underneath.

As I go through the Vista section :
1. Almost completely rewritten audio stack
2. rewritten networking stack
3. Avalon
4. Indigo (sort of part of networking but the framework is new)
5. IE7(I know a lot of us already use firefox, including me, but it would be nice to have a browser that works well out of the box.. and looks quite nice)
6. WMP11
6.1. Windows Mail (i.e. new spankin' outlook)
6.2. Windows Photos app (don't remember exact name)
6.3...? Other new win apps like Calendar etc.
7. Some sort of updated MSI (I may not be giving enough credit here.. didn't watch that video too closely)
8. Sidebar anyone? Smiley
9. Aero Glass (a lot of people hate this for god knows what reason... personal preference though I guess)
10. New fonts, upgraded Cleartype system
11. Better support for internationalization, if you need it
12. Better printing support!
13. Better terminal services
14. New Crypto "framework" (not a framework really..but yeah)
15. New Shell! Virtual Folders etc.
16. RSS! RSS! RSS! RSS! (as scoble would say if he was steve balmer Tongue Out)
17. Some new kernel stuff? (have to watch that video again, a lot of it went over my head *whoosh*)

And probably a lot more. But hell after new shell, aero, audio and networking stack I was hooked.

Cheers,
Aditya