Here are some of my thoughts on the Windows operating system and how thing could be improved in the "next" version after Vista. Also, the ideas aren't in any particular order of importance, they are just in the order I typed them in.
1) Make the Desktop version of Windows more Modular, like Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 is more modular, you can install Server Core that doesn't even have a graphical interface, or you can install Windows Server 2008 with just the features you want/need. Why not make a Desktop version of the OS like that? Let the advanced users, during installation or from the Programs/Features Dialog, decide which features they want to install. Currently, Windows Vista Ultimate could be considered a little bloated, and the extra features installed that I don't use are just taking up space, and some run in memory affecting my system performance. For instance, If I don't want or use Windows Media Center, then don't install it, it's not required for Windows to run.
2) Improve Data CD/DVD Burning, make it usable
Since WinXP, we've had Data CD burning capabilities. It hasn't been the best functioning, and IMO is too slow to use. I actually use a Free burning program called Deep Burner to burn data discs, and its' performance is much faster. This is an area in Windows that needs improvement, and since the functionality is already baked into Windows, why not improve it to be the best it can be?
3) Add Mount ISO and Burn ISO Support
Developers and Sys Admins get ISO images from their MSDN subscriptions and elsewhere quite often, so why not make it easier on us by adding the capabilities to 1) Mount an ISO image to a Virtual Drive, and 2) Add support for burning ISO images to Disk. These features would make things much simpler, and such often used functionality should just be baked into the OS.
4) Add Blu-Ray Burning Support
Lets face it, our backup needs are growing in size. When I backup my data I need to use multiple writable DVD's to back everything up. Soon enough, Blu-Ray burners and media will drop in price enough to make them practical to use for backups. Since that will happen in the next couple years, why not add support for it to the OS?
5) Custom Themes and Visual Styles
It's nice to have a consistent look and feel for Windows, especially for branding. But, why not add customizability to Windows for users to design and use their own Visual Styles and Themes? It would make Windows more enjoyable to use, since you could change the look of it to match your personality and preference. Or, alternatively a bunch more (like 10 or more) Visual Styles could be baked into Windows for the users to choose from. This feature idea is all about personality.
6) Decouple Internet Explorer from the OS
It sure would be nice if you could have multiple versions of Internet Explorer installed on the same machine, at least from a developer/designer perspective. By decoupling IE from the OS, it would also enable you to uninstall Internet Explorer completely if you choose. Give a little more freedom to the user as to which web browser's they want to use and install.
This also goes along with the ability for full debugging of ASP.NET web applications within other non-IE browsers from Visual Studio, but this is really a seperate idea that's more a suggestion for the next version of Visual Studio.
7) Integrate Hyper-V into the Desktop Version of Windows
Virtualization is a technology that is not only valuable for Server Virtualization, but also for Desktop Virtualization for Developers. Yes, you can install Windows Server 2008 on your development machine and then use Hyper-V for virtualizing dev/test environments, but if you don't have an MSDN Subscription the Windows Server 2008 license can be expensive. Why not add Hyper-V to the Desktop Version of Windows, so developers can utilize it on their workstations and completely get rid of Virtual PC 2007?? Also, it sure would be nice to use Hyper-V on the same machine that I use Media Center on... After all, I use one pc for EVERYTHING!
8) Add Basic Virus Scanner
Let's face it, almost every pc has some kind of Virus scanner installed. Windows already has a Spyware scanner called Windows Defender. Being an advanced user and developer, I just don't get spyware on my machine, but the average user does. A worse thing that the average user also gets are Virus's, and they are much worse than Spyware. Why not add a new Virus scanning tool to the next version of Windows? After all, it will help make it an even more secure OS, right? One critical thing with this is, give the option to disable or completely uninstall the Virus scanner for those who want to use a different one, or none at all.
Here's a little secret, I haven't had a Virus scanner installed on my machine in over 2 years. I am very carefull about what I download/run, and have learned to be this way from getting burned over the years. I also do not download warez, which from my experience is the same as unprotected sex with a complete stranger. I have a second machine that I let anyone that comes over use, and it doesn't have a Virus scanner also, but I don't let anyone run as Administrator on that box either. I could argue that you don't need a virus scanner, but the truth is most user (the average computer user) does!
9) More Sidebar Plugins Baked into Windows
There need to be more Sidebar plugins baked into Windows. Yes, you can go online and download more, but why not have Windows come with more usefull ones? For example, I was initially surprised that Vista didn't come with Media Player or Live Messenger Sidebar Plugins.
10) Isn't it about time MS Paint gets an overhaul??
The functionality in MS Paint hasn't changed since Windows 95! There's a Free app called Paint.NET that is just plain awesome! Why not integrate a nicer image editing application into Windows?
UPDATED: 9-15-2008 - I added another feature idea to the list....
11) Be able to ReOrder Windows in the Taskbar by drag-and-drop
It sure would be nice if you could reorder your task list in the Taskbar by using drag-and-drop to change their order. The automatic ordering of the windows/applications along with its automatic grouping by application is a bit counter productive.
Ok, there's the first 10 things I could think of at the moment of how to improve Windows. If you have any other ideas, please post a comment, I'd be interesting in hearing them.