Ive it to be very similar to xp with lots of new features,either you like them or you dont im afraid.
Finding your way around is again similar to xp,with a little extra added here and there.
The submission you mention " Isn't Vista not just a fancy XP? " probably yes it is,but more secure and with the search function for example so much better.
Im not one to give this (Vista) the total thumbs up just yet,as ive only played around with it now for a week.
But first impressions are very good.
I would say this though,at the moment,the biggest issue's are the drivers especially usb modem drivers.
If you dont like the hassle,wait a while before trying Vista...though you may be ok and everything runs ok for you.