Lets chat a bit about what Windows 7 is likely to be, what it should be, and what you can do to make it better.
Windows 7: What It Likely Will Be
There were a lot of things that didnt make the cut in Windows Vista that are likely to find their way into Windows 7. One of the big ones was a massive focus on the 64-bit mode, which was what Windows Vista was initially supposed to default to.
Windows Vista was designed to be the transition product between 32- and 64-bit platforms just as Windows 95 was supposed to be the transition platform between 16- and 32-bit platforms. But Vista missed so Windows 7 will have to pick up and carry this migration responsibility.
Virtualization was supposed to be a major part of Windows Vista and it fell out of the product relatively early in the cycle. Microsoft has recently finished cooking their initial virtualization offering and parts of that will likely make it into Windows 7. The good news is that this should make Windows 7 vastly more secure and migrations to new hardware after Windows 7 vastly easier. The bad news is youre probably going to have to rethink how you image systems and rip and replace all of your desktop management tools.
We got BitLocker in Vista but what was initially called Palladium evolved and then died. Expect a massive change in the Windows 7 security model to address emerging trust problems and better secure the links between systems and the services they use. This will have broad implications for things from VPNs to home media systems and will likely take a while for the third party vendors to step up to.
To say that folks were a little disappointed in the Vistas Aero interface would be an understatement and there are an increasing number of vocal folks inside and outside of Microsoft demanding this be dramatically updated. Microsoft has historically resisted this. But with the market incursions by Apple and the lack of interest in Vista tied to this, my bet is we are likely to see a major change here.
This product will be based around the idea of SaaS. Windows Live will be a major part of the offering, with versions of this back-end service likely licensed to businesses and hosting companies so that IT can better design a back-end that fits their client base.
Vastly improved integration with Open Source back-end offerings from Microsoft partners
This is a major ongoing effort at Microsoft, partially driven by the EU judgment and partially tied to the realization that this interoperability or the lack of it is a major impediment to adoption. This will likely showcase the best interoperability work Microsoft has ever done.
Dramatic improvements to low power states
Currently many vendors use an embedded version of Windows or Linux to provide a low power state for checking email and calendars or enjoying multi-media content. Expect that to be less of a mix of products and integrated into Windows 7.
Also expect vastly improved reporting back to Microsoft, coupled with improved patch management from the company. This should result in less disruption and a faster response to identified problems. This data will likely also feed in from their One Care service, allowing them to identify and respond to threats at a much higher rate than previously.