But how many of these things actually mean anything to the end user or really impact their experience of using the computer?
Haha, I can't believe you just said that. If changing backend technologies doesn't mean anything, why did Apple waste time making the move to a BSD backend, why isn't Windows still using DOS underpinnings, and why did we ever move past 8-bit processors? This statement alone just disqualified your entire post, but I'll continue...
The f**ed up Wireless zeroconf so it's even more confusing and less reliable than it was in XP. Profile management is now a PITA, and my Vista machines are now utterly hopeless at automatically connecting to wireless networks and before you blame a specific equipment provider, with several different wireless cards, and on several different wireless networks.
That's what happens when you try to force it your way old-school style instead of letting the wireless stack do it for you.
Moving the audio subsystem into user space has turned even the most powerful soundcards into the equivalents of 'dumb' HDA codecs with all audio processing done in software.
Moving the audio subsystem into user space and standardizing OpenAL has singlehandedly crushed Creative's monopoly on APIs. Open standards are good, closed standards with proprietary hardware are very very bad.
Superfetch makes a negligable difference to application launch times, yet slows down any memory intensive app for the first few minutes because it's really bad at giving up RAM when apps need it.
Superfetch makes a world of difference launching apps. Firefox, Thunderbird, and Microsoft Office apps all open in the blink of an eye on my laptop. This feature takes at the very least three months to learn your patterns, and should not be judged quickly.
x64 Vista will no longer allow unsigned driver installation without the user manually selecting 'Disable Driver Signing Enforcement' at every boot, which doesn't stop malware developer buying a signature and signing drivers, but it does stop independent developers like Daemon tools having an x64 version that works with the newest Vista KBs installed.
Yes, and your point? This is a very, very, very, very, VERY good feature, and is the primary reason Apple's operating system is so stable. No hardware except the hardware that is certified OK goes in the OS.
And best of all, after less than a week since install, since I changed my mobo, I've lost the ability to manipulate folders properly in Explorer, again. I can't move them. I can't name new folders. I can copy a folder from A-B and that's it. Anything else has to be done from the command line. I'm not re-installing again, and if I do, it will be XP or 2003 x64.
Haha, you changed motherboards (and most likely chipsets too, I'm guessing) under an OS and are wondering why you have problems? You're a funny man indeed.
To hell with DX10.
This comment was a little random and out of place, but I have to address it. You seen a real DX10 game? Go check out Crysis in DX10 on an SLI 8800GTX system, your tune will change very quickly.