I found from "playing" with my dad's machine that XP is quite boring if you want to tweak. There are tweaking toold avaliable though. It is very very stable (unless you force the wrong drivers on.. oopse).
If you're buying a new PC you may be better to go with XP, more of the hardware coming out is aimed to work with XP rather than older OS versions. All should still work with 98, but some reject it, but work fine with XP.
Xp is very stable. I experimented with 98SE on a dual boot with XP home last year and in the few weeks I used it, 98SE crashed dozens of times to the point of it not even loading up anymore. XP hasn't had a major crash since I bought it.
BTW, if you work for a renowned software house with operating systems, wouldn't you have tried XP already?
I cannot claim such high credentials - I merely have to use the operating systems that I buy or are provided for me at work.
At work I have W98 which crashes from time to time. Our IT people, in their wisdom, have disabled everything that might have led me to a solution. Their solution is: reformat and re-install. Time and time again.
At home I have XP. It is incredibly stable - I just do not have BSODs or crashes anymore.
XP is extremely stable and user friendly, also fast and pleasant to use. There is quite a bit you can do to XP, but better to let it run as is.
Win. 98se is also excellent to use and can be fine tuned as much as you want to. I ran 98se as my operating system for two years, never had any problems at all, Have been using XP Pro for 4 months or so and would not like to change back. j.