Sorry, but Windows offers scant few options for fixing major issues before "reinstalling Windows" becomes the only real option. Sure, things made VERY slight improvements from XP to Vista to 7. But I must emphasize VERY SLIGHT.
In all my years doing this I've found Windows boxes to be the single biggest pain in the ass to support. And it's all due to the registry. See, in a standards-compliant operating system (Under POSIX, FHS, and SUS which are the *real* operating system standards, not what Microsoft offers its users as a de facto standard that only applies to Windows.) configuration is always plaintext, and organized in simple directories anyone can read, but not necessarily make changes to. This, by the way, is also why Windows is so readily infected is because it offers piss-poor file permission protections and thus even an unprivileged yahoo can still change system settings and thus so can a virus.
See, with Windows, it stores ALL the stuff important to the system working properly in a binary database ONLY THAT INSTANCE OF WINDOWS CAN ACCESS. If Windows breaks, good luck getting access to its configuration to fix the problem. In a standards-compliant system one could run a boot disk and use a simple text editor to fix what is likely one errant value. Because the windows registry is a binary database, you can't access it with anything but the registry editor installed on that copy of Windows.
Sure, Microsoft added a "last good configuration" option, but that hasn't done a good job on the vast majority of Windows boxes I've had to fix. Safe mode is nice if there's a driver or virus running amock but still relies on the system actually WORKING enough to boot to the desktop in the first place. And the recovery console they used to offer had very little useful tools, none of which, by the way, could access the registry.
The registry is far from robust or reliable. Sometimes... okay more frequently than "sometimes..." a COMPLETELY MINOR VALUE that's set wrong in the registry can cause a fatal chain reaction to a Windows installation.
Trust me, Windows is still far from the "reinstallation unneeded" state all the other operating systems have reached, and all because Microsoft doesn't have the first smegging clue how to design a quality operating system.
I haven't had to reinstall Linux in a long, long time. Why? Because if I break something I just start up a Live CD and change my configuration file to something "correct."