So Windows 7 had it's first public showing this week at the PDC conference in Los Angeles. Here's an article about it in the Seattle Times. One of the things that strikes me about Windows 7 is how lean it is! MS has trimmed a lot of fat from Vista, removing applications like Contacts and instead making them available as Live downloads. The OS just feels lighter and sleeker, even running with VDI, the whole experience is very responsive. The disk footprint is low and the OS installs faster than expected.
Sidebar has been reworked so you can position gadgets anywhere on the desktop. The task bar has had a major facelift too! Now you can pin running programs and documents so you don't really need the quick launch toolbar. Overall, the interface is more inductive.
UAC is configurable so you can limit the number of elevation prompts when running as an Administrator. The default setting is to only bother you when a program attempts to modify a protected resource but you can adjust this using a sliding scale, similar to Internet Explorer's security tab. This is probably the best improvement on Windows Vista.
However, many of these features are cosmetic and since Windows 7 is still alpha, things will be different in the RTM. But the overall picture will stay the same with improvements to performance, compatibility, stability and security. It looks really good.
As someone who was hit twice by SLAMMER on XP, I really appreciate the security enhancements in Vista including the phishing & spyware detection, firewall, resource protection, UAC and session isolation. Windows 7 makes this medicine a lot easier to swallow.