This new import tool has frustrated me from the beginning as well, and I tried numerous third party programs with no luck in reproducing the simplicity of the XP Scanner and Camera Wizard. I finally found one from (of course) Microsoft themselves. The Windows Live Photo Gallery (LIVE is the operative term here, this is NOT the standard Windows Photo Gallery included in Vista), available for free download from Photo Gallery - Windows Live
, has an automatic import tool that not only does everything the old XP wizard did, but surpasses it.
The WLPG import tool automatically groups the pictures on your camera by the duration of time between each set of pictures, i.e. every time there is a 4 hour gap between pictures, it creates a new group. You can easily set the gap between groups or remove the grouping altogether for a more XP-like experience, but I recommend using the auto-grouping as it is extremely helpful and accurate.
You can name each group before you import, so you can do a bulk import and still get individually created folders and properly named files within those folders in one easy click, rather than going back to the beginning several times as in XP. You can also set the file naming independently of the folder naming, which I find helpful to avoid long file names. For instance, you can tell it to call the folder "Steve's Birthday 2009", and just name the files "Birthday". Of course the files are numbered in order they were taken as well.
The gallery program itself is a perfectly good tool for viewing and managing your pictures. It looks just like the built-in Vista "Windows Photo Gallery", which is very similar to Picasa. It also has a pretty cool panoramic stitching feature which worked surprisingly well when I tested it.
But you're not interested in editing, you just want to get your pictures on your computer in an organized way without paying to do so. So go download this thing already, because it does just that, really well.