One of the strong points of the Mac OS is that it comes kitted out with iLife, a suite of apps aimed at the home user. Microsoft has shipped consumer apps with Windows in the past but these have traditionally been rather well basic.
From what I can gather Microsoft will offer Live apps via a download to users, but right now I dont see anything coming that remotely offers the functionality that comes pre-bundled with Macs.
I know that Microsoft has in the past been accused to cluttering up the OS too much, but right now the Start Menu is looking very barren. A happy-medium that would please most people is a default install of consumer apps, but an option during the install process to not install them.
How polished a user interface can Microsoft deliver?
Put Windows and Mac side by side and you notice how much effort Apple has put into polishing the user experience. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to have a problem when it comes to making Windows the smooth experience that it should be.
There are so many examples of illogical UI decisions made in Vista that it seems apparent that developing a clean, consistent UI wasnt a high priority for Microsoft. Fortunately, Microsoft seems to be fixing some of the more glaring issue in 7.
What about compatibility?
If there was one issue above all others that tarnished the Vista brand it was the high number of compatibility issues that early adopters faced. Despite Vista having a long beta test, vendors such as NVIDIA and ATI had difficulty bringing out drivers that were stable. This caused a lot of understandable user dissatisfaction. The issues have now been fixed but the notion that Vista is buggy and problematic still lives on.
Windows 7, because it is based on the Vista core, should be a pretty safe bet for anyone already running Vista, and most drivers and software should just work normally. Thats not to say that there wont be any issues. With build 6801 Ive found that Googles Chrome browser wont run, and that some drivers cause Blue Screens of Death (BSoDs) when upgrading from Vista to 7. I expect most of these issues to be resolved by the time Vista is in beta.
Overall, Im very impressed with build 6801 of Windows 7. For a pre-beta its very well rounded and offers quite a good experience. Sure, some things are unfinished, and theres quite a few things that are broken, but given that were not even in the beta stage yet, I have high hopes for Windows 7. It could after all turn out to be Microsofts Lucky 7!