I would agree with you on the part of IE6 being clumsy and unstable but to call it slow is calling all other browsers super-slow or something like that (either that or you had your computed infected). Saying you were prepared to give Microsoft a chance and then bash IE 7 like you do is one of the most incoherent things I've read recently, since any unbiased person agrees that IE 7 is at least a good browser. I shouldn't bother either with correcting biased opinions of people like you, but anyway. Yes, you're right, it is faster (slightly) and more stable (not totally - as no browser is - but much more than IE 6). Apart from that it has many other pros (like security, just to name one) and yet you loath it (why am I not surprised that you do?).
What is the problem of defaulting to a icon only view, are you blind or have mental problems to recognize symbols or are you too dumb to change the settings? Interesting you say that many people don't like icons in isolation because that is the absolute first time I hear anyone criticising that - in fact, it's not Microsoft's fault that you are too dumb to understand what the icons mean (I do and I'm sure most people do too). Again, I disagree with you when you say things look horrible without the meny but, once again too, you can set it to be visible all the time (as I did, for reasons other than looks) so you're argument is ridiculous when you have the option to put it like you like. (and I won't mention either how dumb you have to be to take more than 15 seconds to find out how to do that or to look in the help file how to do it)
Better than IE6? Definitely, much better. Better than Firefox? Absolutely. And on one hand you say you hope it's not true that IE7 is forcing non-compliant websites off the web (leaving any human being with a brain to conclude you don't think it's important for a website to be compliant). On the other hand, you say that would be Microsoft's dream and criticise IE7 for not being totally WWC compliant (so being compliant is just important if/when a Microsoft's product fails the complaince test, did I get it right?) - for your information Firefox is not WWC compliant either. So if you think non-compliant websites have good content and that is the really important factor, why is it so important for IE7 to be totally WWC compliant, could you please decide yourself once and for all and start making sense?
Finally, resources, yes. Your numbers are very interesting given a quick check on my P4 3.06GHz with 1.3 GB RAM shows IE7 38652kb and that number almost never passes the 100000kb mark, while I recall when I used Firefox 2 for a short period of time when it was released some months ago it would quickly raise to the 200000kb (yes, 200000kb) mark after about 15 minutes of use, something my friends (who use Firefox 2) confirm happens to them too. Yet more ignorance regarding Microsoft products, it would seem too.
So, for starters, I think it's a little hard to "roll back to IE7", as you say, but for me no hyped Firefox thank you, because, I will keep using IE 7 mainly because (unlike Firefox 2) renders every page I visit perfectly, doesn't use 200MB of my RAM after just 15 minutes and, last but not least, *is secure*.