|I totally agree!!!|
Vista changed a lot of very simple things that didn't need to be changes. Unfortunately Windows 7 is only a slightly fixed version of Vista and not an XP improvement.
If you want you might consider a Virtual Machine that is running XP for your favorite tasks and leave the OS as it is.
Kind of a hard question. I prefer XP for speed alone it is still faster than both. It will soon be retired one way or the other.
Might look at Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD solutions for a try. I can assure you that you will have to learn new stuff but the price is right.
"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, are in my top 10