I'm not sure this quote from The Register is quite on the mark:

But for Sun, which had rose through the ranks of a dozens similar workstation manufacturers through foresight, engineering skill and hard competition, Microsoft's mediocrity is an affront. Few companies can afford Q&A disasters in their core product lines, as Sun knows when it endured a torrid time upgrading its SunOS customers to Solaris. And huge opportunities were lost when Sun failed to execute, such as the potential leadership of the embedded processor market that the Java picochip promised, but couldn't deliver. Thanks to its monopoly position Microsoft can afford to release sloppy software and not worry about the repercussions.

Microsoft makes shoddy software? Now sure, the security holes are insane. Security is a problem. But from a, "where do you want your home PC to go today?" angle, Windows obviously does very well. I don't hear many people complaining about what they can't do on Windows, unless MS intended you not to be able to do it on purpose.

Sure, IE's features are lagging behind now and it seems like MS Money or whatever died a horrible death (or tried to), but overall I'm reasonably impressed with their software, especially the VB6 IDE (and now VS.NET), Word, Excel, Visio, and the like.

And where's Sun? What have they done to make the consumer OS market better? Nothing. We're comparing Apples and Windows here; Sun and *NIX don't even really have a dog in the fight. Does Sun have a better server-side set-up? Arguably, sure, but even there Windows has made some very nice headway in the middle-tier of the market (one above MySQL/php and below JSP et al and Oracle farms).

This also brings me to my question from earlier today -- If MS can stand to have shoddy software, they can also afford to start from scratch. Why haven't they? This is the part I don't quite understand. I worked for a company that had a line of products they hadn't updated/rewritten in years, and it brought in a ton of money for the amount invested. If you don't spend the resources to rewrite -- and keep selling! -- you can make a ton of dough. But I don't think that's what MS is doing, exactly.

Guess I should learn more about Longhorn and how much of the NT codebase it uses.