Although it wasnt Apple that started the negative campaign against Vista (that was down to disgruntled early adopters), I dont think that will stop the Cupertino PR machine from trying to tar Windows 7 with the Vista brush. Any weakness or omission will be scrutinized and magnified for the sake of making the Mac OS look like the superior operating system.
But will Microsoft give Apple any ammunition to throw back? I think that the answer to this is yes. After all, the first problem is that no matter how good Windows 7 is, theres an argument to be made that Vista set the better bar pretty low. Windows 7 doesnt just have to be better than Vista, it has to be a heck of a lot better, and those improvements have to go way beyond superficial eye candy.
Another possible weakness for Microsoft is the fact that Apple is including support for experimental technologies in Mac OS 10.6. These include features such as OpenCL (Open Computing Language) which allows the GPU to be leveraged for parallel computing purposes, making possible applications capable of fast video rendering or highly accurate voice recognition.
Microsoft is also planning a similar feature for DirectX, but while Apples solution will be cross-platform, Microsofts will be confined to the Windows PC and the next generation Xbox, which could limit broad adoption of the technology.
And Microsoft would ignore Apples capability to whip up developers into a frenzy at its own risk just look at how developers took the touch screen and accelerometers of the iPhone and used them as the basis for some really innovative applications.
Note: Some people think that OpenCL is a transient flash-in-the-pan technology. I have to disagree with this and can offer one compelling reason to take OpenCL seriously Apple is already openly hyping it on the Snow Leopard web page. To quote: Another powerful Snow Leopard technology, OpenCL (Open Computing Language), makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit (GPU). With GPUs approaching processing speeds of a trillion operations per second, theyre capable of considerably more than just drawing pictures. OpenCL takes that power and redirects it for general-purpose computing.
In not backing technologies such as OpenCL (which is backed by some big hitters such as AMD, ARM, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Samsung, and Texas Instruments), and instead going with a Windows-only solution, Microsoft is once again relying on its dominance to sell technologies to developers.
If Apple brings out some cool apps that make use of technologies such as OpenCL (like maybe a revamped iLife), this will be used against Microsoft.
Microsoft really needs to get Windows 7 right, or it risks breaking the revenue-generating upgrade cycle that it relies on so much. Time will tell