Having played both the LOTRO close beta and WOW since launch I will say both are great MMOs.
LOTRO's strength is that it pushing more casual gaming than the "hard core" that WOW has.
The crafting system in LOTRO is a little more robust than WOW's. While I haven't fully immersed myself into crafting, my guildmates have stated that it's close to the crafting system in SWG (pre-CU, pre-NGE). Players can also fully dye all armor and weaponry, including the BOP, BOE, and epic stuff. I really wish WOW had this.
Graphically LOTRO, when fully maxxed out, is extremely gorgeous. Turbine decided to make LOTRO's graphics more realistic versus WOW's stylized cartoon-y graphics.
WOW runs much smoother on older systems. On my AMD 3200, 1GB DDRRAM, GeForce 7900GT I always get a framerate of 60; sometimes more. In LOTRO I was having lots of problems whenever I got near the major cities. For example Bree is a dreadfully lagged city. It's not uncommon to spend 30-40 minutes running from the West Gate to the South Gate... if lagged.
Within WOW titles are earned by killing players. In LOTRO titles are earned by killing mobs. And each title awards to talent-like buffs.
Probably the most unique class is the Minstrel. I've not seen this type of class before in any other MMO's. With this class you are able to actually play musical notes via the keyboard's numeric keypad. You can mix up the notes to achieve different results. AFAIK after you learn a valid song a hotkey icon becomes available. This is VERY close to how Turbine handled spells in Asheron's Call 1. You had to "learn" the spell. Once it was learned it was available as a hotkey icon.
Turbine isn't stressing PVP as a major aspect of game play. But Turbine isn't leaving it out entirely. In the Ettenmoores there's something called Monster Play. What this let's players do is run up to any creatures (spiders, bears, orcs?, and so forth) within the zone and "control" them. After assuming control you can attack Elf, Dwarf, Human, and Hobbit players.
There's more to say but I think I'll end with the above stuff. I will say that LOTRO will appeal to those weary of WOW's "hard core" game play. LOTRO will also appeal to Tolkien fans.
-----http://www.gamemusicjukebox.com/http://music.download.com/kxmodeThis comment was edited on Feb 22, 16:55.
"Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times." - Those Who Remain by G. Michael Hopf