In happier news, I got around to getting Vista (read below for reasoning). Alas, the 64bit version doesn't come in the box. I understand not wanting rank morons installing it over their working OS on 32 bit machines, but at least make it available for download, not another $10 and the mailing time for a cd to make it.
Beyond that, the install is pretty smooth; not nearly as long as many news outlets suggested. So it boots up the first time to present my user picture and a password prompt... I kid you not, a dead ringer for the gnome login screen. Hilarious.
As for actual usage, it seems pretty standard. MSVC++ express won't install (might be able to trick it eventually), my ancient sound card has no drivers (yet), one of the windows updates keeled over upon reboot, but everything else common works without complaint. The control panel is distinctly mac-like. At least things are better named and organized than mac-panel, but it still is quite weird and a little *too* user friendly. There does though seem to be much more which is configurable there...
Oh neat, firefox saved this entry as vista locked up [grin]
We'll see how things go when I get some working sound and using the thing regularly. At least at first glance it seems to be lacking a bit of stability that I enjoyed with win2k. On the other hand, there's a number of little things which really seem like those things that you don't notice until they're not there. Also a number of little things I can hear running behind the scenes. They do seem to be doing useful things rather than just sucking resources.
We'll see soon enough.
[edit: ARGH oh yes, the removal of the 'up' button in explorer is infuriating.]