I started my Linux life with RH7 then 9, and changed to FC2 then 4. Now I use Ubuntu (since 5.04) as my main distribution. I have found that Linux as a whole has improved by several orders of magnitude since the RH7 days, to the extent that returning to windows is almost physically painful. I test-drove vista the other day and was stunned at the features declaired "new" which linux sported for years.
Here's a much more fun comparison, between Aero (Vista) and Beryl (in Ubuntu).
... it is a bit unfair, as the Ubuntu demo would have required more setup than the Vista one, and Beryl does not ship with.
I do small-scale linux support professionally, my supported distros (ones I will suggest and install myself) are:
primarily: Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Zenwalk
otherwise: Debian, Fedora, Slackware
OpenSUSE over fedora/RedHat in NZ since Novell have a physical presence in this country while RedHat and fedora project do not.
I used to offer Yoper as an interesting variant. It originates in NZ and has a remarkable turn of speed. Unfortunately, nobody wanted it. And I'll help with any... I have recently done two fedora core 6 installs to very new intel hardware which everything else choked on.
I have been watching, with interest, the responses of differing distributors to the pressure to ship with proprietary drivers/formats.
Users don't care about licences, they just want it to work on the "don't make me think" cycle. If the first thing the customer does is install proprietary drivers (as a matter of course) then the free software message would appear to be getting lost. (See how many help sites provide cut-and-paste instructions to install ATI or nVidia drivers, without discussion...)
Novell has responded by paying license fees, which has been criticised on many fronts (mostly for appearing to legitimise claims that software licences are valid and that linux is vulnerable to related lawsuits). However, OpenSUSE remains glob-free AFAIK.
Canonical, while currently not loading proprietary drivers by default, seem to be looking at including drivers where it is a case of working or not working. The driver loads with a popup spelling out the issues and asking if it is OK. This seems saner, as it directs user attention to the hardware vendors. How effective this will be is subject to debate.
debian, fedora etc firmly oppose proprietary drivers in their system. fedora has looked at including anti-proprietary measures in their distro kernels.
This has been coming for a long long time. I suspect policy on proprietary drivers will fast become a major distinguishing factor between distros.