Service Packs can break software. Hot fixes rarely break any software. In my experience I know only of 2 cases where that happened: the Vsphere client and a custom IIS application. And that's out of hundreds of applications and hundreds of patches.
Meanwhile, please compare the version bumps between 3 different Fedora versions or 3 different Ubuntu versions. Those include tons of bug fixes and tons of new "features". Features I might want or not, features that might change something I do not changed.
Meanwhile, except for service packs, Windows versions do not introduce new functionality during hotfixes. And even base versions are supported for a long time, so you can just apply the hotfixes and ignore the service packs.
From a compatibility point of view, Windows rules supreme. I don't know any desktop OS with this kind of application compatibility.