I find the "music" and "picture" bits in shells a little patronising and a bad attempt at shoe-horning people into doing things a certain way. I don't like it when the shell has a "Buy music online" button, I see it as an advertisement.
I also feel the new start menu and UI paradigms are a step backwards in usability.
Fair enough. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all UI, so instead designers tend to aim for a feature set that's great for the largest sub-group of users possible, while either not getting in the way or being customizable for the rest. Also keep in mind that the team here is constantly working on usability and you can expect to see plenty of refinements before the product ships.
We've had powerful imaging and deployment tools since the Windows 9x days, they just weren't officially supported by Microsoft (somewhere in the MCSE it says to roll out a base installation and distribute applications over AD when it's really just easier to roll out a HDD image)
Well, I'm not an expert here since I've never worked in an IT department. But I'm told that the IT features here really are a big step forward.
As for OS stability... shouldn't that have been a priority with Windows XP? After all, the Windows XP setup says that it's the "fastest and most stable" Windows yet, so some of us XP users are going to feel a little shafted.
Whilst I'm sure that some of the kernel features are pretty nifty (new audio and networking stacks, for instance), might I ask why these improvements were necessary in the first place?
...Why, in this day and age, even with Windows XP, are display drivers not in User mode, for example?
If only XP had acheived perfection, then there would never be a need for any other release of any operating system ever again!
XP is a great OS, and made huge improvements over the Win9x era. check out a few of the statistics Jim Allchin highlighted at the XP launch (look for "There are many reasons why Windows XP sets the new standard"). But XP isn't perfect, and the entire industry has learned a lot since 2000 about how to build even more secure, reliable systems. Some of that learning went into the XP SP2 release. A ton of it went into the Vista release, and so Vista will be demonstrably better than XP in these key areas.