I can say that Vista is not another ME. Windows ME was complete junk.
VISTA has its problems, however, people are missing some of the greatest changes in VISTA. And they would be security based changes. Especially when it comes to buffer overflow/under run (The number one best way to crash an app and escalate privileges). Viruses
love to rewrite memory locations with whatever they want, and Vista does a great job of stopping this too. Spyware is still a problem for VISTA, but out of the box it is much, much more resilient to problems.
I am a certified PC technician from A+, MS, and Cisco. And I work on between 50-100 PCs myself every week. I also have a full time job as a PHP/SQL programmer.
I can say that VISTA as far as features goes does not offer to many things over XP. However, it seems that what people complain about most are compatibility, and performance. I try to explain to my customers that VISTA was created to run on new machines, and
machines that will be created within the next couple of years.
Whether you like it or not, when XP was released it ran like hell on older machines. EVERYONE was complaining about how much resources it consumed, especially memory.
As far as compatibility goes, MS has done a great job of releasing drivers for Vista. They added hundreds of thousands of more devices to Vista's driver database since it was released in January.
As an example, I have installed VISTA from the OE Retail disc on several newish computers (computers built after Jan 01). And 9/10 times you don't have to install ANY drivers. The first time I saw this I almost fell over.
AC97 audio is known to cause some problems when audio switches frequencies. This is a very common problem with Nvidia video cards + AC97 audio cards. Newer drivers have helped a lot. To say that they ruined the audio system is untrue. It works completely different
than the XP audio subsystem, and in my opinion after some stability improvements in MANUs drivers, it will be awesome.
I have only seen a handful of VISTA BSODs (Which everyone I saw were Black, not Blue). And they were either hardware (Memory) or crazy customers doing god-awful wrong things to their computers. Like forcing XP incompatible software onto their new computers,
after I told them 5 times to go to the web and download the latest versions.
Above it was stated that Readyboost was too slow to affect system performance. That is completely wrong, as you are comparing it to the wrong speeds. It is meant to offset random IO's on the hard disk drive (not system memory), which as you may (or apparently
may not) know, Flash Memory is up to 10x faster than any hard disk drive when it comes to random IO. This is due mostly to seek times.
Some other great features include BitLocker, which is awesome for laptops. Do you really want some weirdo looking at your personal photos, or better yet finding an accidently stored Credit Card number in IE.
Dreamscene is cool, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
Speedbooster, one of the best features that no body can see working. The preloading algo learns user habits quite well.
Some of the little things that I like; When you rename a file it doesn't highlight the file extension anymore. The search box located in the Start menu. File sharing and Network connection Wizards could not be easier to use.
If you have a fast computer I recommend VISTA. If your machine is a few years old, stick with XP.
Whether you like it or not VISTA is selling at nearly the same pace as Windows XP. Windows ME was not even close to this.