First i have none of 'noname' hardware and all drivers are updated immediately when i go on the company website.
My cd-writer is a Yamaha, my soundcard is a Soundblaster live, my motherboard an asus, my videocard is Creative labs, ect...
I never use low-cost hardware.
My HP 520 printer work fine many years long with win9x, today same configuration, just the motherboard is changed, and i cannot use my printer with win9x because the text printed is only trash.
With Dos or Linux, no problem, my printer work fine, perfectly, in the command line and in the x-window.
If that is not a prove of instability, then what you need for..
For memory, i have today 256 Mo of ram and windows need a swap file (just after booting and run Win-commander) of > 79 Mo.
Some time after a day of using windows without reset or crash, i receive message from win9x 'not enough memory to run this program'.
Don't say to me that Win2000 need only 192 Mo because this is what Win2000 ONLY require to run, if you want use another program like a game or a wordprocessor, you are death because 'not enough memory to run this program' will be the message that will come again, and again,...
Are you working for Microsoft or have you some auctions of Microsoft, maybee this will be explain why you love so much Winxx and the product of Microsoft...