Well, I may be a complete XSI v5 fanboy but I’m very impressed with what the Blender project has achieved this year. Blender 2.40 appears to sport some very serious improvements, especially in the animation arena, kudos to them for that. They’ve clearly benefitted from the Google Summer of Code which was a superb initiative (which no doubt curdled Microsofts milk) that I hope they repeat next year - we had a couple of candidates but the places were filled so fast it didn’t happen.
Blender is another product I’d love to play more with if I had the time - as it stands I barely get enough time with XSI so I don’t have any time for a second one. I was also one of those people who was discouraged by the alien nature of the Blender interface to begin with - before you all swamp this post with comments, yes I know that once you do the video tutorials it gets a lot easier ;). I still believe Blender lags behind the big names (XSI, 3DS, Maya) in terms of features and polish, but my goodness if they keep up this kind of pace that won’t always be the case. Truly an open source project worth getting excited about.
I also hope that the armature (skeleton) API has fully settled down now so our Blender exporter(s) can be updated to the new version stably. reimpell and nfz will no doubt see to that.