The Microsoft WIndows team should spend the next 3 years NOT adding new features. They should spend the entire time improving performance and quality. The reason MacOS X is much better than Windows Vista is the exact reason why Windows 2000 was so much better than MacOS 9. It’s faster and more reliable.
Users like fancy graphics in general, but that is not the critical aspect of the operating system. Speed and reliability are everything. If you open up Word and it takes 10 seconds, you are annoyed and start thinking about why things suck. If you launch a new window and BAM! it is there immediately, then you start to feel good and productive. An operating system needs to be fast.
Reliability is also killing Vista. It crashes still. If you leave Vista up and running for weeks at a time, you will get funky behavior. When something goes wrong with Vista, a reboot is always the best first medicine. MacOS can run much longer without getting weird.
Spend a couple of years on reliability and speed. Make Vista MUCH MUCH faster. I don’t care if that means a brand new infrastructure. It needs to be fast.
If they were to release Windows NextGen (Performance Edition) and the experience was instantaneous across the board, then I think Microsoft could put the varnish back on. Otherwise, I see a long slow decline as the desktop means less and less in a browser centric world.
Interesting: The minute I published this, I saw this article saying that Apple is doing EXACTLY what I prescribed for Microsoft. Great minds…