The usual article about "the evil empire" of Microsoft doing evil things ends up being some Linux blogger with an axe to grind. Today though Computerworld has an article about Windows files being changed that may be worth a look.
Then, continuing with the evil theme, there is that neat Reduced Functionality Mode in Vista. For those who aren't running a legal copy of the OS or for those who have run out of days on their 30 day trial you will find RFM not so friendly. You can actually get to your files with no Start Orbs or Windows Explorer if you choose to try and by a Windows Key on line then use the adress bar to browse your C:\ drive or other folders. I've done it in this mode and trust me it ain't easy. But if you have never heard of this mode then check out the article listed below.
Of course if you are trying to avoid Vista all together your days of doing so are numbered. Colleges are switching to Vista because it is all their students can get. And with cheap upgrades on sale in the Campus stores the adoption rates will begin to soar faster than some pundants predicted just one year ago. Learn more from this Ars link.