"Is all the software/drivers on Windows considered bleeding edge? Is the hardware not abstracted such that it would cause a complete meltdown with no user interaction possible? Are recovery options insanely complex for the user?"
Absolutely. Microsoft and Linux vendors have released updates in the past that could cause if not a meltdown, then at least some discomfort. When the pending updates show up on my Windows 7 PCs, personally I prefer to install only the security updates immediately, and that is only if I am ready to reboot my PC at that moment. The rest of updates, I'd like to let them simmer and sit there for about a week. Then, if none of the tech news sites reports breaking news about how a recent update has destroyed something, then I also install it eventually on my PC, and again, only at the moment when I am ready to reboot it.
Now, the way Microsoft handles driver updates is doubly bad. First of all, a whole lot of drivers come as a part of a software suite that includes a configuration utility app and the actual driver. But microsoft often just wants to push you an updated driver, without the utility. Now imagine what happens when you combine an out of date driver settings app with the latest driver? I personally don't want to be the first one to find out.
Another, much bigger problem with the Microsoft driver updates is that Microsoft often keeps trying to push you completely old and out of date drivers. How many times I have seen the Windows update offering to install three years old AMD Radeon drivers, even though I already have a more recent AMD Catalyst suite, with drivers.