I am quite possibly the worlds worst fair weather fan.  I have gone from loathing Vista to loving Vista . . . all in the same day and much more passionately than with any of our previous OS's.  Over the last few months Vista has been really awesome on every computer I admin (which is to say my work notebook, my home PC, my wife's notebook and all my family's machines).  How do I *know* Vista has been rock solid?  Because Vista has this cool feature called the 'Reliability and Performance Monitor'.  If you have Vista and haven't checked this thing out yet - click 'start' and type 'reliability' and then click on it when it comes up in the start menu.  Vista is a very self-critical OS.  It judges itself on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being undesirable and 10 being rock solid.  My machine at home (HP a1350n) has been rock solid ever since I swapped out my Hauppage TV tuner and replaced it with an ATI 650HDTV tuner . . . I also added an x1950 pro video card for improved aero performance.  It has a 9.65 out of 10 rating.  The only thing keeping me from a solid 10 is an IE crash I had a couple weeks ago . . . my wife's notebook is at or near 10 . . . the only problem she's had recently is a mouse driver that doesn't like to resume from sleep very intermittently.  She didn't know how to use the keyboard to reboot so she hard cycled the machine.  That greatly angers Vista and hurts your score.  I updated the Synaptec driver.  Hopefully that gremlin is gone.

I told you all of that - to tell you this (yeah I'm getting somewhere).  If you're an IT geek and you are the de facto admin for you and your family - you want Vista on their machines.  Why?  Because when you go to visit the technically challenged family members - instead of having to listen to them describe intermittent 'wierd' behavior - you can just pull up the reliability monitor and get a good summary with enough detail to give you actionable guidance on how to make their computing experience better. 

Case in point - my mother in law.  She's awesome - but as technically challenged as they come.  She's a hard-core 12 o'clock flasher.  We visited her in early May in Ohio - Vista was rocking on her notebook and she had a score in the 9.5 range.  When I visited her most recently in late June I was stunned to find that her reliability index was a shockingly low 4.15 at its low point and was holding steady in that range (as shown below).

You can see that she went from a high of near 10 on May 1st to a low of 4 in the space of a month.  What had happened?  I picked a particularly rough day (for Vista) and saw two interesting things that you see above.  An applicaiton failure (in this case - LVPrcSrv.exe) and a bugcheck (blue screen) occurred.  Ouch baby.  So what had happened?  Well - I hate to say it - but it's MY fault.  You see - she watched our kids while I was in Spain recently - and before the trip - I installed the latest Logitech webcam drivers for Vista and taught her how to do video via Live Messenger so we could see the kids on the road . . . the drop from 10 to 4 is purely the result of this crappy 3rd party software and I was able to surmise this in the space of about 30 seconds by scrolling left to the point in time where her computing experience started to turn shitty.  I removed the offending software and in the space of a week she had started her triumphant return to near 10 levels of up time.  She will be getting a Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 in short order.