Seems there are few cool things coming to Windows Vista. They are the very same cool things we Mac users have been enjoying for a few years. Oh and the bit at the end about how they only expect 5% of the machines out there able to run it, gotta love that.

Here are some of the grace notes that will remind you of similar ones on the Mac: A list of favorite PC locations appears at the left side of every Explorer window, which you can customize just by dragging folders in or out. You now expand or collapse lists of folders by clicking little flippy triangles. When you’re dragging icons to copy them, a cursor “badge” appears that indicates how many you’re moving. The Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons glow when your cursor passes over them. There’s now a keystroke (Alt+up arrow) to open the current folder’s parent window, the one that contains it.

Some of the big-ticket Vista features and programs are eerily familiar, too. The biggest one is Instant Search, a text box at the bottom of the Start menu. As you type here, the Start menu turns into a list of every file, folder, program and e-mail message that contains your search phrase, regardless of names or folder locations. It’s a powerful, routine-changing tool, especially when you seek a program that would otherwise require burrowing through nested folders in the All Programs menu.

A similar Search box appears at the top of every desktop (Explorer) window, for ease in plucking some document out of that more limited haystack.

New programs include the Sidebar, a floating layer of single-purpose programs called gadgets ( Apple called them widgets) like a weather reporter, stock tracker, currency converter, and so on; Photo Gallery, a deliciously simple shoebox for digital photos; the bare-bones DVD Maker, for designing scene-selection menus for home-burned video DVDs; and Chess Titans, whose photorealistic board can be rotated in three-dimensional space.

Flip 3-D, which presents all open windows in all programs as cards in a floating deck, seems to be modeled on Mac OS X’s Exposé feature — minus the ability to see all the windows simultaneously. You have to flip through the “cards” to find the one you want.

Now, before the hate-mail tsunami begins, it’s important to note that Apple has itself borrowed feature ideas on occasion, even from Windows. But never this broadly, boldly or blatantly. There must be enough steam coming out of Apple executives’ ears to power the Polar Express.