Originally Posted by Dimethios
Win 3.11 - Good for the time
Win 95 - Bad
Win 98 Sp2 - Great OS
Win ME - Terrible
Win XP Sp1 - Great OS
Win Vista - Ok, but memory hog & too buggy
Win 7 SP1 -Very nice OS
Win 8 - ?
It seems to me every other OS for them is the guinea pig/test bunny for the next OS, and i'm not willing to use that OS on a critical machine.
While your theory sounds nice, all wrapped up in a bow like that, you managed to leave out several major OS revision releases, and completely left out Win NT/2k (which were decent OSes in their own right). While Win95A had major issues, by Win95C the OS had become a reasonably stable and useful OS. The chief issue here was that there was no upgrade path from Win95A to Win95C. Win98, OTOH, wasn't particularly well accepted until Win98 SE came out (were you mistakenly calling "Win98 Second Edition" "Win98 SP 2"?). WinME, while not great, was not horrible. It just didn't really have anything going for it that put it out ahead of Win98SE. Meanwhile, WinXP had many issues when it was first released. Until SP1 was released many people were on the fence about it, but from SP1 on through SP3 it had become a very stable and reliable OS. In fact, every OS up through this point eventually reached a point of maturity which gave it a useful stability and made it a worthwhile OS.
Then you get to Vista. Universally lambasted since it was released, what makes it truly unique is that no amount of tweaking or Service Pack releases has been able to remove the problems from this OS. Vista was just a memory hog at a time when memory was still at a premium, which was unforgivable. It has "features" nobody wanted, and it's new driver architecture meant that much older hardware simply stopped working making it an upgraders nightmare. Even as RAM got cheap enough, you still had issues as laptops and netbooks got smaller with less powerful processors and limited amounts of RAM, which made Vista unusable on them.
It took a completely redesigned approach, in the form of Win7, to correct some of the fundamental flaws of the Vista OS. And unique in Win7 is that it was almost universally accepted as a great OS almost instantly. Whether that was because it was a great OS or because people were burned out from Vista is hard to tell -- personally I think it was a little of both. Certainly the release of Vista helped Win7, as the drivers were reaching a point of maturity by the time Win7 was released, meaning the backwards compatibility with older hardware has mostly ceased to be an issue. Win7 is still more of a memory hog than WinXP; the difference is that Win7 came out at a point in time when the hardware could handle it, unlike Vista which was "ahead" of it's time.
Given that Microsoft appears to have learned their lesson with Vista I wouldn't count Win8 out yet. That's not to say that Win8 won't have some flaws, chief among them in importance, at least for this forum, is the removal of WMC. I just don't think that taking a flawed look at past OS releases and using that to predict how Win8 will handle is a good method of predicting anything.