One also has to remember that Windows 95 was really the clean-break from the old 16-bit Windows 3.1 platform and it was a fairly radical change across the board. Now, if Microsoft had sat on their hands and didn't release the SP2 security changes, IE7 or 64-bit builds for XP, then people would be talking about how amazingly better Vista was because of the contrast between the two platforms.
And they'd be complaining about how Microsoft is screwing the XP users over by putting all the improvements in the new OS and trying to get them to buy those.
But they didn't. Because, as you said, they're so "evil" and whatnot.