Windows expert Deb Shinder has been hearing a lot of concerns from users complaining about Vista's hoglike performance issues -- and after she experienced it firsthand, she started looking for the bottlenecks:
Vista Ultimate runs great on my primary desktop computer, a fast Dell XPS with 4 GB of RAM. No noticeable performance problems there. So I expected the same when I bought a new laptop. I loved my little Sony TX model with XP, so I looked to replace it with an almost identical model running Vista Business Edition. It came with 1 GB of RAM (the XP machine has 512 MB), which I thought would be enough. However, I noticed from the beginning that the new computer took minutes to boot up instead of seconds, and running more than a couple of applications at a time slowed things down to an unacceptable level. Running Vista became the "hurry up and wait" experience that I'd heard about from other users.
I bought another 512 MB of RAM for it, maxing out its memory capacity, and got a 4GB USB drive optimized for ReadyBoost. All that helped some, but it was still significantly slower than its XP counterpart.
That's when I went looking for more ways to improve the performance of my laptop....
Her article "Tips for boosting Vista performance" offers a detailed look at some the tweaks she found effective in her quest to speed up various Vista components.