In Microsoft's defence, not every software maker knows how to store settings in a simple way. After all, the concept of storing settings in ASCII text files, as Unix systems have successfully done for decades, just doesn't seem to make sense to developers. It may be the simplest and most deployable method of configuring programs, but developers seem to assume over-complicating program settings is a good idea... because it (supposedly) works for Microsoft.
PS: How does Microsoft know what settings you originally had? Because Windows is full of back doors and spyware, that's how. Microsoft knows it, the public knows it, technologically impaired animal herders in third-world countries know it, and those strange space creatures who will be invading Earth soon know it. And yet, we can't expect Microsoft to admit it.