I've had incredibly good luck with Windoze over the years. There's a few cardinal rules I think that make your Windows experience alot better.
First, don't buy hardware from cut-rate or no-name manufacturers. Or at least not if they're the ones providing the driver support. Video cards aren't so bad, since the no-name brands are still usually supported by the chip manufacturers' driver (nvidia, ati)
Second, don't buy software that claims to speed up, enhance, or otherwise change the behavior of Windows. From experience, software that claims to prevent your computer from crashing usually causes it to crash. The old Norton System Doctor was quite possibly the worst piece of software ever written. To this day, I still won't touch anything resembling, or even faintly reminding me of Norton System Works.
Third, don't install software, especially free software, just to see what it does. Limit your software installations to what you need.
and Fourth, if you need antivirus, be picky. Check the reviews for that year and determine which reputable antivirus gets the best ratings, especially for performance. Don't languish on an old version for years either.
Kaspersky was my favorite for awhile, but Symantec's new AV since 2009 (now 2010) is actually very good.