I felt very fortunate to get a sneak preview of Windows Vista and to be invited on to their trial programme for it, until the techie boys at LTS (namely one of the most helpful guys I know) informed me they've been playing with it for months. Bah humbug. I still felt a tingle of excitement when I saw it in Paris.
My advice for any Local Authority thinking of a refresh in the next year or so - hang on. It's worth it.
Kris Hoet from Microsoft Europe likes bloggers a lot, being one himself, and took me for a 40 minute spin of some of the features. Basically, Vista will turn PCs into Macs. Almost ;-) I loved the way you can flick through the windows open on the PC à la iTunes (see the picture) and the animated open and close of windows is similar to the way some of the dashboard functions on the Mac work. Oh, and it has it's own sort of pop out dashboard as well with all your useful bits ready for action.
Best of all, though, on a school organisational note, is the ability to tag files so that you can find them even more easily in the Spotlight-like 'live' search (as you type each letter of what you're looking for it updates the list of found files instantly - good, I presume, for those who do not touch type).
The kind of media centre, with integrated photos, music, video and so on will appeal to the family and granny market for all those holiday snaps and rips of the iLife package nicely, getting rid of some of its inefficiencies (changing music on a slideshow is a doddle).
At the rate I'm going through Macs (no. 1, no. 2 and no. 3 [no. 4 making funny hard disk noises already]) I might well consider getting a PC with Vista on board once they are released. Rick has some things to say on what could be better (the automatic updates are nice but seem a little late in the day) but overall, I've been impressed by Gates and co. this time.