Re: @Davie Dee
"with proper convergence in to NT in w7 we almost got there"
What are you talking about? The 16-bit DOS era kernels ended (badly) with Windows ME. With the relese of XP MS dropped 16-bit kernels and moved the "consumer" market to the 32-bit path started with NT.
XP was the direct successor to W2000 in terms of code/release, and that was the direct successor to NT4. You might argue about the goals of NT being better reached by Win7, but that has absolutely nothing to do with code convergence.
"Stable, AD, direct x, good driver support, backwards compatibility, etc etc"
In my case the only difference I saw was USB support. I had less stability issues under w2k, never used AD anyway, and never had driver problems or PnP issues on any of the machines I installed w2k upon. Maybe XP was more stable for some users/program combinations, but for me the only advantage was USB (plus longer support for patches, of course)