I installed Windows Vista Ultimate edition about a week back (hence no posts for about a week ). I got a licensed copy of the Business Edition, however, Vista comes on a DVD that has all editions on it, which lets you install any version that you want and evaluate it for 30 days. Note however that if you install a version higher than the one that you have the CD key for, you will have to reinstall the entire OS after 30 days. If you installed a lower version and entered the CD key from a higher version Vista will automatically upgrade to the higher version. To get the option for different versions, don't enter the CD Key, just click next and you will get a list of all different versions. Installation went smooth without any hiccups although I would say it is nowhere near to the 20 minute installation that Microsoft has been touting. It took a good 45 minutes to install (note: I installed this on a 4 year old machine which could be the reason why it took that long).
My first impressions of the OS is very good. It is much more performant on my old machine than I imagined. The new Aero look and feel is really nice and subtle. Microsoft has surely looked at what Apple has done over the years and brought that to the Windows world. I would however be cautious in calling it a rip off as it is not exactly the same as a Mac. They have copied the idea of adding subtle animations to certain tasks, like fade-in fade-out effects. Mac still has the edge right now which I think will fade-out when the next version of Windows ships somewhere in 2009.
Overall I think the OS is rock solid and want to make it my default OS. There are a few quirks that I want you to know before you run and get yourself Vista. Vista does not recognize my SoundBlaster Live 24 bit sound card. Neither Microsoft nor Creative has the drivers for it. The impression I get is neither companies plan to write the drivers for it. So I am sort off left out in the cold. Also Vista did not recognize my Logitech ClickSmart 510 webcam. Both devices are around 3 to 4 years old and probably will not be supported, hence my best suggestion for anyone wanting Vista is to wait until your next PC, otherwise be ready to replace the devices that don't work on Vista.
Final word: There is no way for me to go back to XP especially since I am sick of looking at the same desktop for 5 long years. However, I have to wait for a couple of months till I assemble a new PC. By then Windows Home Server will have shipped and I can convert my existing PC to a Home Server and enjoy Vista on the new one. The really cool thing about Home Server is that I can install SQL Server 2005 and transfer my website / media files to it and not bog down my new PC.
BTW I got onto the Home Server beta program (not a big deal any one can get on it by applying). I plan to install it and check it out to see what's new.