Again, going back to my early Vista beta tests, my end user hated this and the first thing they asked was for it to be disabled when we deployed our new machines. This new management method for UAC seems to be more user-friendly and does not take away the administrators ability to lock down UAC via group policies.
Now on the graphics side Windows 7 is superb. The clarity and quality of the display graphics really impress. The new Aero Peek feature allows you to view, switch, and close windows by simply hovering. Aero Peek also allows you to pin windows to the taskbar. This is not enabled by default in the pre-beta; it sure is worth mentioning though, since it blows away the Vista thumbnail viewer.
Another little piece of improvement is the libraries. In Windows Vista, XP, or even earlier, Documents, Music, Pictures and such were assigned folders in the users profile. These also gave us a central place to store these types of files.
Windows 7 takes a more document management approach to these files, in that it creates libraries where these files can be found. What is different is that the files do not need to be placed in the documents folder or the music folder. Wherever these documents exist on the PC they are placed into the library where they are easily found.
The final analysis
In a nutshell, Windows 7 looks to have taken all the things we liked about Vista and made them better. And it took all the things we hated about Vista and made them more likeable.
The smaller footprint, less memory requirements and general trimming down of the bloat would make me say this is a new OS and not Vista, part II. One needs to reason that quite a bit of the Vista code needed to be re-written to achieve these benchmarks.
If that is not enough to sell you XP fans, think a bit on this. Windows 7 has a virtualized and stripped down copy of XP that exists to make software compatibility issues go away. No more retro- fitting Vista to act like XP so that it will run your old software. Windows 7 looks like it will win the hearts, minds and PCs that Vista couldnt since its release.
Personally I believe that Windows 7 hits the market at a time when businesses, in spite of economic concerns, need to cycle out those old machines. Microsofts move to address some of the major pains of Vista helps it out to a degree. So does the ability to have Vista around and to develop some more new and exciting features for Windows 7.
I think as the pre-beta moves to beta and CTP, more and more people will see that Windows 7 will address both the rational and irrational (to be fair) complaints and will deliver a nice user experience.