There is no doubt that in a work or home environment where performance is at a premium, it is best to turn the Aero interface off. If you have the resources, however, give it a try. See if it makes a difference. Again, in reality it does look good - but it is not necessary. If indeed you have a version above Home Basic, then Aero may be used. However, you also need to have the necessary hardware: minimum 1 Gigabyte (GB) RAM and a minimum 1 GHz (x32 or x 64) processor.
Let's take a look at some of the offerings.
With Aero you will notice the glass-like or translucent effect on any window that is opened. There is a clearness to the effect when looking at windows. It is pretty smooth and easy on your eyes. Another element of Aero is that windows are considered dynamic. What does this mean? Microsoft is referring to the fact that the windows minimize very smoothly, for example. I admit that I did not realize this until I read about it in the product guide. But it is true. Also, more importantly, the level of DPI (dots per inch) supported has gone form 96 to 144 DPI. With modern computer screens now expanding capabilities, this will help a great deal in maximizing view quality.
Also with Aero there now exist Live taskbar thumbnails. With them, you hover the mouse over a file or a tile on the taskbar, you then get a nice summary of contents. Another Aero component is Windows Flip. With multiple windows or applications opened on a desktop, one can use the Start+Tab keys to flip through all the applications that are then visible in a 3D view. Hit Start, Tab, but hold Start down, and use the arrow keys to navigate. It's pretty darn sleek.
Finally, there is theoretically a "Smoother-performing desktop" (pg. 44 of the product guide).This means that windows open and close and resize more smoothly than in XP or earlier versions. Also, Aero supposedly reduces video card related or driver software related crashes. That remains to be seen, as I think some cards already have had issues (Google or Live search for "Vista video card driver crash").
So, again, Vista Aero interface is quite nice, and maybe can even make one a bit more productive considering the smoothness of the windows (less eye rubbing? fewer cigarette breaks for office workers? more organization via the 3D windows switcher?), but that is probably not proven just yet. If, however, you r system has the resources, then use t. But if your system is slow, or even on the border between good performance and bad performance, then maybe keep it turned off, until that upgrade comes through from the I.T. Department.