Think about this for a moment: The operating systems we all use on a daily basis, regardless of the particular flavor we prefer, are based on the same exact core principles and ideas that have been around for over twenty years.
Of course, we do see many high level innovations in consumer operating systems like Windows, OSX and Linux. New technologies like the CLR (it's what enables everything .NET), for example, represent significant innovation in the areas of virtual machines and software development in general. Systems are becoming more stable and reliable due to innovations at the kernel level. Computers themsleves, however, are not becoming smarter. They continue to be input-driven machines. There is little innovation happening at the OS level from a cybernetic point of view (adaptive regulatory feedback). It's as if operating system research, for all intents and purposes, has died.
I am not criticizing what we have today. My PC, for example, hasn't crashed in ages and does pretty much what I expect it to do. I am primarily concerned with the problem of what we will have tomorrow. How homeostatic and adaptive will operating systems of the future be if we, as a community, invest so little in the science of operating systems? Without significant basic research, what will drive OS evolution?
Ironically, the application of machine learning research to consumer operating systems is almost exclusively targeted at solving problems like automatic email prioritization, automated content management, automated software analysis, and other really nifty user features, which is great, but what about a machine capable of learning about itself and using this knowledge to better deal with perturbations and to further develop the ability to anticipate potential problems?
I am well aware that Intelligent machines have already beaten the world's best chess players, discovered abstruse mathematical theorem proofs, etc. Artificial Intelligence is primarily applied to robots not personal computers. I'm talking about the evolution of operating systems that run our PCs, not the software that drives the complex machinery of intelligent robots capable of thinking and reasoning. While the latter technology is on pace to usher in truly smart machines within the next 40 to 50 years, the former is frozen in a state of scientific stasis.