Do people really still play BOTF? Does it even work with Vista or Win7?
Oh yes, quite a few people still play the game, as a matter of fact. You can find a lot of us hanging around ArmadaFleetCommand, which is probably the single biggest site dedicated to BOTF these days; we've got around 7000 members (albeit most of them are lurkers, of course). Feel free to join us!
The game generally seems to run fine on Vista and Windows 7 -- my best friend is able play BOTF without issues on the former -- although apparently some people have had to tinker around with the game's settings in order to get it working properly. Again, you can find more help & info over at the AFC site I linked to earlier.
Over the years, we've seen numerous excellent mods become available, which greatly extends the game's replayability. I myself am partial to the Balance of Power (BOP) mod, and to a lesser extent the Ultimate Dominion III (UDM3) mod, but that's just me.
Also, just in the last 6-12 months a few hardworking folks have found and implemented numerous bug fixes. Sadly, they still can't do anything about the memory leak problem or the AI (as they're both hard-coded), but a lot of other things have been addressed (such as the inability to contact minor races that are membered to another empire).
Finally, BOTF retains a small but active MP community. Since the demise of the game's MSN gaming zone, they've been playing matches on something called the Warzone. I've not played any MP matches on it myself, but apparently it works very well. If that's something that interests you at all, I know you would be very welcome!
"Evil is easy, and has infinite forms." -- Pascal