Doesn't this vs that help though? You could take ideas from popular competing products and implement an improved version. You need something to compare to if you wish to improve a product. Visual Studio for example could probably be a lot
better if there was a real alternative. If you only had this, then a product may never really get better.
XP and in the future Longhorn probably have got some ideas from MacOSX (which is apparently very newbie friendly - not used it though)
Because there is now credible competition, Windows should get even better (it hasn't really changed much visually since 95 - which IMHO was/is Microsoft's most successful product, completely different to Win 3.11, the big changes being 32bit support and the
TCP/IP stack. NT has contributed NTFS and better security.