Hot on the heals of the eventually loved XP, Vista was not one of Microsoft's biggest success stories. Specifically, it lacks some of the key elements needed to provide compelling functionality to media center PC users, notably lacking the ability to accept an input from a satellite HDTV provider.
Vista can, however, successfully manage your music, photos and movies with ease. The lower cost of a PC vs. competing Apple products or standalone media server components not using Vista tempts consumers to try getting more from their home theaters via putting PCs in the loop.
Vista also allows consumers the ability to program their systems from universal remotes to AV preamps, receivers and beyond. Vista has proven to be quite reliable as a robust platform for home automation, yet installers are still somewhat fearful of the Microsoft factor when it comes to choosing an HTPC-based system over a more purpose-built system like Crestron, Control4 or AMX.
Without question, Microsoft is in the home theater PC business for keeps. They are getting input from their partners in the early goings of PC convergence and are adding features, functionality and reliability to their operating system, so that Windows-based computers are increasingly relevant in home theater systems.
Vista is being replaced by Windows 7, which has gotten much better reviews and is widely felt to be a far superior operating system.