One of the things that kept Vista from being adopted quickly was a simple problem: once we are used to doing something a certain way, it’s difficult for many people to change. Vista was deliberately made very similar to Windows XP in most respects but there are a few things in different places or designed differently, and many Windows XP users still find that difficult to accept.
If we could change more easily, we might have seen much more innovation in our computers. Microsoft has designed a number of fairly profound changes to Windows over the years but has largely backed away from them. Paul Thurrott has a nice article about some of those Microsoft platform changes and compromises here.
We are creatures of habit! I still work with people all the time who are upset about the ribbon bar in Office 2007 because it requires learning something new, regardless of whether it’s a significant improvement. Windows 7 will introduce a new design for the taskbar at the bottom of the screen; I’m not sure that it will be accepted easily by many people.
This picture tells you quite a bit about how much Microsoft has sheltered us from change. This is the Windows calculator app in Windows 98, Windows XP, and Vista. Is it a strength or a weakness that it hasn’t been changed in more than ten years?