Microsoft knows how to generate press. Longhorn has been a stable on all the MS drone blogs for a while now, and they are currently releasing betas for review even though the OS won't ship until 2006, and that goes into every tech newsmedia of course. The 2006 ship date is not to be criticized. I much prefer what appears to be actual news, but rare releases, to the recent microscopic updates to Windows.
The new filesystem sounds interesting, and the ambition to structure the filesystem namespace with levels of granularity between that of byte and file reminds me of some of the ambitions expressed by Hans Reiser for the ultimate file system. We'll have to wait and see how intuitive it is before we can tell whether it's just "Every OS ships with an SQL engine" or an actual integrated system for accessing data inside files.
Palladium is still there to dread, no matter how many times MS renames it. This is IP rights darkness at the hardware level and really not a good idea - at least not if you consider all the monopolistic plays that can be made in not sharing API's to access the functionality and enable it in free OS'es. If you thought Winmodems were evil by blurring the layering of device driver layer and OS layer, then this really places us at the very lowest circle of hell.
The look and feel seems a bit less annoying than XP, although the system still uses up screen real estate like the actual work we want to do didn't matter at all (UPDATE: There will be a new look, it's just not there yet), and finally there's the telling 88% CPU usage on a reasonable 900Mhz laptop with 256 MB RAM from running just the 'clock' application. How very Microsoft.