Microsoft has confirmed that the new taskbar is a mandatory feature, there will be no “legacy taskbar” setting available for users. We talked to them about this and other UI changes during PDC.
While I think the Windows 7 UI looks like a trainwreck so far, I have to commend Microsoft for finally having some balls. Giving users fewer needless options is generally a good thing — it reduces confusion and prevents users from customizing badly and making their own experience worse. (Remember that crazy person’s PC with the tiny script font on every menu and button with the Hot Dog Stand color scheme? That’s why OS X hardly has any “theme” options.)
The only flaw with this principle, of course, is that it assumes that the stock configuration is generally well designed. This, of course, is rarely true with Microsoft products.