@porcorosso: Thanks for the reply. Just a few comments in return:
*I did get a couple BSODs, but they were admittedly both with open-source, graphics-intensive gamea tested on XP. So, that may not be fair. (Though I have to say, the lack of backwards-compatability is my oldest gripe with MS; I was a teenager when Win95 came out, and remember being very upset that nothing new would work with 3.11).
*UAC is, I think, overrated. Other security measures -- like sandboxing MSIE -- are great. UAC in particular, though, seems like little more than an update on the old "Files downloaded from the Internet can be useful, but . . ." message in XP. Given the lack of password protection on it, too, it seems like only a matter of time before a scripter learns how to bypass it.
*I did not realize that non-admin mode was now a viable option (didn't even try). I agree that this is a great and much-needed improvement, and will be testing it out next time I boot into Vista.
I still think the following things should have been addressed:
1) Comodo and Spybot S&D still outperform the default Win Firewall and Defender programs.
2) This has been said to death, so I'll paraphrase: "I kan has no registry??!!?"
3) Patch Tuesday still presents exploit risks and, possibly, crashes Skype (joking!). Admittedly, this isn't version-specific, so probably should directed at MS rather than their youngest child.
Finally, re: crapware. I have no idea why hardware vendors think this is okay. I recently bought a Compaq laptop (with a Linux-compatible wireless adpater, mind you). It came with Windows, of course, and I wanted to make the recovery disks before installing Linux. The most time-consuming part of the first-bootup process was removing all the HP-added junk. If I were Ballmer, I would prohibit OEM vendors from doing this -- it's driving people away from Windows.