From the Longhorn FAQ:
Longhorn will feature a task-based (or "iterative") interface that goes far beyond the task-based interface found today in Windows XP. Microsoft has been working to move beyond the dated desktop metaphor still used by Mac OS X and Linux;
For a point of view of the drawback of task-based interfaces, see this post on MacMegasite.
Q: But Mac OS X already has a lot of these features. What's the big deal?
A: Apple has implemented some basic desktop composition features in Mac OS X "Panther." But the basic problem with Mac OS X isn't going away: It's a classic desktop operating system that doesn't offer anything in the way of usability advancements over previous desktop operating systems. Today, Windows XP and its task-based interface are far superior to anything in Mac OS X. In the future, Longhorn will further distance Windows from OS X. From a graphical standpoint, there won't be any comparison. As Microsoft revealed at the PDC 2003 conference, Longhorn is far more impressive technically than Panther.
With the most user-friendly desktop Unix out there, I don't see how Apple's Mac OS X is classic and even so it's not a revolution in terms of usability (already pretty excellent by the way), it does offer a few novelties, such as Exposé. And from the same FAQ, we learn that "Longhorn is still due in late 2005", which means it will start to take off somewhere after mid 2006. Panther is available today, and by the time Longhorn hits the streets, Apple will have released new systems.
And, last but not least, Palladium, aka NGSCB, is back (emphasis is mine):
Q: What's with this Palladium stuff I keep hearing about?
A: One of the most exciting aspects of Longhorn is its optional integration with Palladium, Microsoft's technology for realizing its Trustworthy Computing vision. Palladium--now called Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB)--is basically a secure run-time environment for Windows and other operating systems that allows a coming generation of software applications and services to protect the end user from privacy invasion, outside hacking, spam, and other electronic attacks. Palladium requires special hardware security chips and microprocessors (which will be made by Intel and AMD) and doesn't interfere with the normal operation of the PC. That is, Palladium-based PCs will still operate normally, working with legacy operating systems and applications. But specially-made Palladium applications and services will offer a range of features of functionality not found in the non-Palladium world, and if the initiative is successful, we'll one day be running only Palladium-based software.
I'm not looking forward into this at all! What makes me laugh out loud is this desperate salesman blurb:
Palladium stops spam. Spam will be stopped before it even hits your email inbox. Unsolicited mail that you might actually want to receive will be allowed through if it has credentials that meet your user-defined standards.
Let me doubt of that very, very much. One of the strong drivers for Palladium is a matter of pigopolists life and death, as acknowledged by this (emphasis is mine):
Using Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, Palladium can be used to securely distribute music, movies, and other intellectual property securely over the Internet. Movie studios and the recording industry could use this technology to let their customers exercise their fair use rights to copy audio CDs and movies, for example.
Except that you can count on them to use this technology to prevent us from exercising our fair use rights, provided those rights still exist by 2006.