Vista had a problem because Microsoft changed the driver model because of all the heat it took over security issues. Then of course Vista was launched and most companies hadn't written decent drivers.
Windows 7 uses the same driver model and so benefited from the existence of mature and better drivers, and a large number of them.
The main problem with Vista is that it was pushed out too early before the infrastructure was there.
By contrast, Apple has complete control over the hardware and software infrastructure, and is wise enough to launch when ready.
On the tablet scene, there was an EC R&D project called Newspad that delivered a prototype tablet around 1995. At the time, there was no web browser (Mosaic was in its infancy), the over the air data rate was limited to 9.6kbit/s (first generation GSM data), screens were 640 x 480 and power hungry, and the cost was about $5,000 (a laptop was around $3,000 at the time) and it was a bit on the heavy. It took 15 years before the technology developments brought us down to the size, battery life, ease of use etc and a consumer price point.
Apart from a few zealots, does anyone really care what operating system a machine is running these days? Probably not - it is functionality, ease of use, cost and applications.
I have a little thing in my pocket that can do much of what I want on the move - the Nokia E7, which runs a 16 bit OS dinosaur - Symbian. But actually, for what I want, it has some of the best software around.
Rescuing reputation is hard and takes a long time. Back in the 1960s, Vauxhall cars (UK end of GM) were known as rust buckets. In the 1970s, they were the first to galvanise components and offer a 6 year anti-corrosion warranty, but it was the late 1980s - before they finally shook off their image - some 10-15 years, which would (for cars) be 2 or 3 purchase cycles.
Could be that is where people are with Windows; XP was the first really sound GUI OS from Microsoft; Vista had issues, but mostly only in its early days; Windows 7 has been better than anything before, but cautious people still don't know if this a cycle or a trend. If Windows 8 is sound from the outset, this will confirm the reputation to be good and show that whatever the causes and issues with Vista, Vista was a blip.
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