So my first taste of freedom was installing Windows 7 on my Athlon 3200+ with ATI IGP. Vista performance on this "Designed for XP" laptop was miserable at best, downright crappy at the worst. Hulu barely performs and often stuttered on 480p content. If you can believe it, I could not even carry a webcam conversation without it stuttering horribly.
With all of the talk about Windows 7 performance improvements, I had to check to see if it would run on my old beast of a laptop. The installation was lengthy. It took about 90 minutes to install and another hour to get all the drivers downloaded and reboots performed. I was beginning to have doubts but after everything was straightened out I found the performance to be snappier in every aspect. It works quite will with 768 MB of RAM and leaves me with 200+ free when browsing the Internet.
Hulu? - No problem
Webcam - No problem
DVDs? No problem
Blu-ray rips - Yah forgettabout it.
If you have Vista loaded on a lower grade laptop, you should walk, nay RUN, when W7 ships and get in on the performance increase. It is well worth it.
Now if only Softsled was available. If only.
Next HTPC project is to integrate my iPod into mysetup. Remote control for my HTPC box and extender AND streaming of videos from my server.
Edit: Jenny reminded me that the upgrade plan is only until Jully 11th. $50 is a great deal on W7 Home Premium upgrade. It is available from stores like New Egg as well.