I’ll second Jon’s sentiments - when I got my iBook, one of the first things it did on booting was to find my wireless network and get connected to it. A little thing, maybe, but all the little things add up. OK, XP is probably old enough that WiFi wasn’t on their horizon, but will Vista have this sort of user experience?
I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to the wiping of a computer once you receive it from a third party manufacturer. I use the ThinkPad t40 at the office and I was frustrated with the amount of junk that comes preinstalled. Granted, Dell does the same thing and I understand what they are trying to accomplish.
They want to provide the user with as much functionality out of the box as possible. However, as you pointed out, it simply immerses the user in an ocean of icons, confusing them more. There needs to be a line drawn in the sand defining the balance between helping and hurting the end user.
That “can’t bundle, we’ll get sued” thing is totally overblown.
Read the court’s judgement (http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f200400/200457.htm). The restrictions on bundling are mostly on what Microsoft can require of OEM’s, and if OEM’s can add or remove bundled software. Fine, let them remove it. It’ll sell as well as Windows N.
Also, bundling open source projects like Paint.NET would completely sidestep the “secret API” issues, since the source is publicly available.
The “we’ll probably just get sued” way of thinking is out of hand. If we followed that line of thinking, Vista would have no new features. Windows XP has notepad and paint program, neither of which were mentioned during the anti-trust case. No one said they couldn’t update these applications.