I use Blender almost exclusively now, most recently for this game art tutorial series, but its what I actually use on a daily basis.
I've been a hobbyest 3D artist since I first got my hands on an Amiga with Lightwave ages ago. I even purchased a copy of 3D Studio ( no max... ) for DOS when I first got in to school. Since then, especially through professional artist friends, I've dabbled with pretty much every single 3D application released in the past 2 decades, even the completely impossible to figure out Houdini and ultrarare Nichimen nWorlds/Mirai. So, ive got some perspective on how things compare.
I will honestly say, in the > Blender 2.4 days, anyone using it used it because it was free or familiar to them and well, that's about it. Those days are long behind now.
With the 2.5 revision and 2.6 refinements, Blender is certainly moving in the right direction. On the other hand, all of the AutoDesk offering seem to be going the wrong way. I think this is a side effect of Autodesks yearly release schedule... shit gets added every year, even if it doesnt really need to be. More importantly, every time something is added, nothing is removed! This is creating some serious bloat, especially from a UI perspective.
Every so often a company needs to bite the bullet and do a full retool, and generally people do. Maya is a reworking of Power Animator. XSI was a reboot of Softimage ( then XSI had a second reboot I believe as well ). Blender 2.5 was another such reboot. It's a good time to push out the old, bring in the new and clean shit up. That said, its costly, disruptive and not always immediately popular ( go back to when Blender 2.5 was released for example! There are still a few die hards that think 2.4 was just all around better! ). Thing is though, a yearly release schedule and a reboot just dont go together, and Autodesk simply dont do it. Instead they just bolt more and more shit on top.
It's amazing to open up Max and see all the same primitives and operations available from Max one in Max 2014. It's also mind numbingly stupid... people dont use metaballs anymore for example. Also have 3 different Edit Mesh modifiers is just outright confusing. All the other products that Autodesk now own ( Maya, XSI specifically ) are getting the same treatment. Each year, bolt on more shit and remove nothing else. Look at Maya's "Quick windows" now... it's almost a joke.
In many ways, I think this is where Blender is gaining and the other tools aren't. Usability is the driving factor for Blender at this point. Powerpoint charts and feature matrices seem to be the driving factor at Autodesk.
Now Blender is no longer just the application that you use if you cant afford the other ones. Now, its just like all the other apps... a viable option with it's strengths and weakness.
Now, I would just love to see them continue working on one of its biggest weaknesses... pipeline support. 2.69 adding FBX import was a good step, but it needs to keep improving.
As to stability, Blender has been absolutely rock solid for me. I almost never experience a crash, I would actually say I found it more stable than most. That said, the NLE video editing is a different story. That is a crashtastic pile of crashing goodness.