The more things change...
I mentioned 'backgrading' from Vista to XP recently - this makes it sound like the right decision.
The 95-ME-Vista comparison is unavoidable, Micro$loth hardly have a stellar rep where introducing 'new' OS' is concerned, but then neither do Apple if you think back...
Consider, if you can remember this far back:
OS7 was a crashy disaster which caused many to 'backgrade' to OS6 for a while - but it did mature into 7.6 which was a fairly nice system.
Both OS 8 and 9 were slightly cranky from the start, but swiftly improved.
OSX was pretty much an alpha release, which many, including me, were forced to 'backgrade' to 9, despite the inherent difficulties in doing so, but has now matured into an OS that I'd love to be able to run on 'PC' hardware (yes, I know what's in my Desktop Pro thanks, but you can't run X on a PC - yet). But the fact remains that the first reliably usable X was 10.2, 10 was an alpha and 10.1 at best a beta...
Micro$loth seem to have a worse problem, in that they have a nasty habit of releasing systems that have serious fundamental issues which the simply can't fix - viz 95/ME, and Vista is looking worse all the time.
Still, it's worth remembering that the original XP was pretty nasty. And in fact didn't become what it is today until SP2 - how many years after release? Talk to people who had to 'backgrade' to W2K, twice, before they felt happy using XP...
The really worrying thing, well, it would worry me if I were on the board of Micro$loth - and it probably causes the Apple dictatorship great amusement too - is that, in 2008, with the world awash with 64 bit PC hardware, Micro$loth is still unable to field a workable 64 bit OS.
I've now tried both XP 64 and Vista 64 and neither has anything like proper 64 bit support. Yes, the third party drivers are there - apparently, but largely don't work!
I've tried XP64. The supplied motherboard drivers didn't work. Neither did the latest versions from Asus, despite being clearly marked XP/Vista 64 compatible. Same with WiFi adapters. Same with audio drivers.
Yet none of the driver installers came up with a 'not Micro$loth signed' warning on installation - so, Micro$loth are clearly signing off drivers for 64 bit use which don't actually work!
Same story with Vista 64... had to 'backgrade' to Vista 32, then again to XP.
Still, give Micro$loth a couple of years and they MAY get a working version of Vista out...
But the move to 64 bit really does seem to be giving them problems. Which I suppose is partially explained by the wide range of hardware/drivers required. The issue there seems to be that Micro$loth are too willing to sign off third party drivers which simply don't work acceptably.
Yes, Apple cleared that hurdle with much less problem - but then they DO control the hardware platform. They have also taken the step of providing their own drivers for a lot of third party peripherals built into the OS, which has helped a lot.
Micro$loth might do better to take a few leaves from Apple's book here - forget attempting to get close to Apple's human interface (which they haven't succeeded in yet anyway) and concentrate on emulating Apple's handling of the move to 64 bit.
Or better still. Treat Vista like ME. Forget it and start thinking of getting XP 64 up to speed, by including an extensive driver library that works so they have a usable 64 bit OS, maybe do XP 64 SP3, then start again with the proverbial clean sheet on a new OS. Possibly based on something like, um, Linux?
I know it's an old chestnut - but aren't you glad that neither Micro$loth, nor Apple for that matter, manufacture, say, cars? Or aircraft?
Welcome to the wonderful world of OS software releases! :-)