Well, I traded Viva Piñata this week for Windows Vista. I decided to bite the bullet and give Vista try on my laptop. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised.
Since I had recently replaced the hard-drive in my laptop, wiping out XP out wasn't as big a chore since I already had my files backed up. I did a "clean" install of Vista Home Basic. I have an integrated graphics card, so Aero just wasn't going to happen for me. It took a couple of hours to do the install and patch my system. Not too shabby. I did have two drivers that didn't load properly, but Vista prompted me about them and even told me where to find the correct ones. Very nice. So far most of my software has worked as well. My expectations were pretty low on some things working, so having things work at all is a relief.
As far as getting around in Vista, it isn't much different then XP. There are style differences, but not such that you can't figure things out. Folders look different and you manage things differently. However, I've been through so many OS's over the years, it didn't take long to figure out where things were.
I like the sidebar, but most of the gadgets are useless. I like some of the default ones. The RSS feed reader was hammering my processor, so I gave up on it. I couldn't find a decent Outlook gadget. I expected Microsoft would have a good one there, but all I found were a few third party ones that didn't get good ratings.
As an aside, I haven't found the UAC windows nearly as annoying as everyone reported. There are a few times where it seemed odd that they showed up. However, they rarely show up in my day to day work.
There are a few odd glitches. My mouse pointer becomes a black glob on occasion. I tired to install the latest ATI drivers, but that didn't seem to make a difference. I also ran into a file permission error with a program. A simple security change fixed that. I also ran into an oddity trying to play DVD's in Windows Media. It gave me some stupid copy protection error. You have to love DRM. My CPU also sits at a constant 10-15% most of the time as well. It appears to be taskeng which manages all the scheduled tasks. I'm still looking for a solution to that one.
In all, I've found my Vista experience worth it. I'm still finding little gems in the OS that make it worth the switch. Obviously, your mileage may vary.