On Windows XP
The Register is running an article of a Windows XP report based on the latest build prior to release candidate 1. There are a lot of troubling things mentioned, where XP prevents this and that for one reason or another.
Example: 3rd party cookies. IE 6 prevents them by default. That's OK with me, since they're usually used for advertsing purposes. But there are probably a few cases where they're used legitimately to convey state or shared information between two domains. By making the 3rd party cookies banned by default, the functionality of such uses is broken. The user can correct this, but most users wouldn't know how.
Another example: MP3 music in windows media player. The playback function is still there, but it won't encode to MP3 at all now. The Windows Media Audio (WMA) format which includes license information is now stricter -- a WMA audio file that is licensed for playback on one hard drive will not play if it is copied to another hard drive.
Why is it Microsoft's responsibility to enforce such things on their customers? If i buy a CD, I feel I have the right to listen to that music regardless of the medium. That means I can record it to a casette tape and listen to that or digitize (using whatever media format I choose) it to my computer and listen to it there. Or perhaps copy it over to another PC I have and play it from there too.
Operating systems have traditionally been designed to enable the user to do things. With Windows XP, it seems there are a lot of new features designed to disable certain behaviors-- I think that is a bad trend and personally I don't think it will survive to the next release.
And then there is this whole 'Smart Tags' thing. Basically, IE 6 (I think this is a function of IE 6 and not just Windows XP) will be to scan pages you read as you browse them and make certain words (like "Microsoft") into special links you can click for more information. See this screen shot to see what I mean. I guarantee that each of those links tie right into MSN.com. Is Microsoft begging for more anti-trust litigation?
One more thing: the automatic installation of updates/hotfixes/etc. I've heard that this will be a 'feature' of Windows XP-- and it scares me. If I were the kind of person that writes viruses or worms, I would already be developing an exploit for this. Why on earth would anyone automatically install (read: unattended or unmonitored) an update to some critical part of their operating system? For that matter, Microsoft themselves have made some really bad service packs/hotfixes before-- if an update winds up damaging thousands to millions of computers, all due to some bug that got past Q/A, Microsoft is going to have a few more lawsuits to fight. Should be interesting to watch anyway.