Actually, I'm impressed. I thought Window transparency was retarded, but Vista isn't just doing that. It's actually blurring the background and even appying "shine streak" effects to it. It's actually pretty neat. I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple do something similar now that they have Core Image, and I guess this means MS is keeping up and has a Core Image-like technology of their own (either that or the UI will be a terrible processor hog).
As for the effects, I don't know. I've never much liked Apple's effects at all. I have to say, Vista's combination of scaling + fading makes a bigger impact that OS X's scaling. Since both are little more than eye candy, I say Vista wins out.
Then again, the problem I have with OS X's scaling is that it's often choppy in real-world use. I imagine the same will be true of Vista, and that'll probably be even worse with it fading as well.
The "pop" effect of opening windows is a little excessive, IMO. I do think there should be some animation, though. In the classic Mac OS, we had zoom rects for this kind of thing, and they did a great job. But now zoom rects would be a fashion faux pas, so we get nothing.
Well, okay, you can optionally have the Finder zoom its windows open and closed, but the effect is too complex and creates lag. These things need to be kept very simple to be effective. Apple overcomplicated it, and Microsoft is overcomplicating it even more, it seems.
Should windows fade closed? Err....no. Again, we're creating unnecessary lag. I know that Vista will be running on much faster hardware than OS X has been for the past 5 years, but even so, I expect this to cause a lot of lag in real-world use. OS X's lag has trained me to almost never minimize my windows. But no amount of training can make to stop closing
windows. Please don't introduce lag potential into mundane activities.
For the first time ever, I feel like Apple should be concerned. MS is going a few things that Apple hasn't effect layers on top of transparency and window opening effects, specifically and these are things I feel like Apple probably would have done if they could have. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see something similar in Leopard, now that Apple does have the technology (Core Image), but now it would look like a copy of Vista.
I guess that's one advantage to Microsoft's more open policy regarding software development. Apple likes to keep everything secret for as long as they can, whereas MS trumpets every planned feature long before they even know if they can do it. So to the public's eye it'll look like MS has a jump even if they don't.