I'm a first year MS:CS student, and my data structures class has inspired me to research file systems and their implementations. I recall using ext2, then ReiserFS, then ext3, then ext4, and now btrfs seems like the new thing. I understand (more or less) what changed from each of these, and their relative improvements, but what I don't understand is how NTFS has stayed relevant during roughly the same period of time (looks like the last major version of NTFS shipped with Windows XP).
Was NTFS simply that well spec'd and designed from the beginning, or has Windows been working around some NTFS deficiencies in the interest of not having to rewrite some core parts of Windows from scratch? If that is the case, why are linux distros much more flexible in changing FS (user can even select a different FS at install time).