Sigh. I want Vista to be "better" than XP. I really do. I keep trying it, but I keep coming to the same conclusion - XP is consistently faster and substantially more stable than Vista. I have just been forced to that conclusion once again, on my Fujitsu Lifebook S6510.
I first bought Vista Home Premium a week after the public release. I tried loading on a Fujitsu Lifebook S6120 (Intel Pentium-M 1.6 GHz), and while it would load and boot, it was ridiculously slow, the Aero interface wouldn't run, and there were quite a few devices that I couldn't get Vista drivers for. So after a couple of months I got a new Fujitsu Lifebook S2110 (AMD Turion 64 2.0 GHz), which was listed as being "Vista Ready". I loaded the Vista Home Premium on that (I had gone back to the original XP Pro on the 6120). This time it was at least able to find drivers for everything, and the Aero interface worked. But I had continuous problems with system crashes and USB hangs. I finally gave up and went back to XP on that as well. When I ordered the S6510, with Vista Business pre-installed, I expected it to be free of all the problems I had seen with the first two. I was, unfortunately, wrong.
While Vista had been running without major problems on the S6510, I had a strong feeling that the performance was not as good as it could have been, and I had run into a few minor problems and irritants. So I decided to get a second disk drive, so that I could keep the original drive with Vista intact, and load that new drive with Windows XP Professional. As I have mentioned previously, the S6510 came with a certificate of "Downgrade Rights for Microsoft Windows Vista Business", and a Windows XP Professional Recovery DVD. So I spent Friday morning changing the disk (not quite as easy as swapping the disk in the S2110 or S6120), and loading XP Professional. That all went very smoothly, with one exception - XP couldn't find a driver for a "PCI Memory Controller". I suspected that it was the "Intel Turbo Memory" option, and a little research on the Fujitsu web page confirmed that this is only available with Windows Vista. That didn't concern me much, because I couldn't tell that the "Turbo Memory" was speeding things up anyway. So the next time XP asked me to load the drivers for it, I let it try (and fail), and then told it not to ask again.
The rest of the XP installation and Windows Update installation went smoothly, so in about three hours the laptop was running smoothly, and I was installing utilities and applications. I could tell right away that the S6510 was faster with XP than it had been with Vista - it even boots significantly faster. When I compared it, running Vista, to the S2110, it took about a minute to boot and display the Windows Logon screen (the same as the 2110), and then after I logged in it took about another minute before it was ready for use (much longer than the 2110). Now, it takes about 30 seconds for the Logon screen to come up, and then another 15 seconds after I log in before it is ready to use. That is much more the kind of performance improvement over the S2110 that I had expected from the superior hardware in the S6510.
I have now spent the last couple of days loading software, updating the drivers, configuring the network and generally getting the laptop back to the point where I could use it as I was with Vista on it. Through all of this I haven't had a single problem. If anything, it has been slightly better than it was with Vista; for example, the latest Intel graphic drivers loaded without problem, whereas under Vista they wouldn't load. I had also noticed that Vista would sometimes start thrashing in the disk for no apparent reason, and I haven't seen that happen with XP on this system. The general feel of the system is faster; programs start faster, documents open and close faster, web pages load and update more smoothly. On two occasions Vista failed to load, and it had to go through a recovery procedure to fix some problem before it could boot again. So far XP hasn't done anything like that.
So, I will continue using the S6510 now with XP. When Vista SP1 is finally released I will put the Vista disk back in, and try it with that to see how it compares. Hope springs eternal... maybe then it will actually perform the way I expect it to. Of course, XP SP3 is on the way, and I'll try that as well... It's going to be an interesting few weeks (or months, depending on Microsoft release dates).