The first question was MS is MS doing this?'. The speaker suggested that there is a perception of unreliably or difficulty in using MS software (some laughs from the audience!) and suggested that Longhorn can help. For example, "responsible" animations help people understand relationships better. Also, when you are doing things like streaming video, the glitches are a pain. Longhorn's driver scheduling should make the experience better and smoother. I People want PCs to be an appliance - people buy them both for their functionality and for their looks. Longhorn will address both.
There was an interesting demo on the Longhorn logon screen. It looks like the XP one, but clicking on each picture changed the look and feel of the login screen. This looks like eye candy. There was a comment to this point. We've seen lots of cool things, but no tools. MS need to get the fundamentals right first - then could build the tools (and I guess the guidelines). We can expect more guidelines at B1 time.
There is a need to affect both behaviour and look and feel. This is going to be the focus of much work. And there is a clearly a dichomoty - teen-ager vs knowledge worker. MS is aware - one Longhorn persona is a teenager, but the focus is on the business user.
How do developers starting from scratch getting up to speed? Start with .NET, and look at Whidbey, and go from there.
1. Just do it (managed code, etc)
2. MS wants 'broadband' feedback, to deliver the longhorn wave together