The reason the IBM PC design was so popular was the same reason the actual IBM PC wasn't -- IBM took a page from Eli Whitney's book and allowed each part of the computer to be interchanged with a part made by a competitor, meaning that you could (and today, almost definitely do) have an entire PC made from non-IBM parts.
So, say that one day the Taiwanese company that made your sound card finally goes bankrupt or is captured by China. If you want to use it with the next version of Windows, you're s**t out of luck, as anybody with a sound card more than a year old was when Creative refused to write less-crappy drivers for Windows Vista until Microsoft did it themselves.
Vista was to Windows what The Phantom Menace was to Star Wars.
If you're using Windows 7, you probably see the "blue screen of death" less often than you used to -- it's a lot better about not letting badly written programs crash your system. But when you do see it, you can bet it's due to drivers written by the aforementioned hardware designers, who may not speak English, which, unfortunately for them (and by extension, us), is the language all the books on how to program drivers are written in.