So... this machine is simply overpowered for XP in my mind. I've often heard folks' opinions that Vista/7 are much more optimized for machines with >2 cores, but since I never used such a system myself for prolonged periods, I have no idea how true that actually said. Still, for me XP is Pentium 4 through Core 2 Duo, although that's probably simply because that's the systems I've used it on, historically.
I still have a couple of such computers running WinXP, the most powerful of which is a Core 2 Duo Thinkpad T60 with ATI GPU. I don't believe I encountered any games that wouldn't run on Vista/7, while at the same time being too heavy for my T60. So I never felt the need for a more XP machine.
This leaves us with hardware-accelerated audio, and here I confess I simply never got all the hoo-ha about it. At one point, my gaming machine was a Pentium 4 HT with an Audigy 2 ZS and a 7.1 audio system. Looked very impressive, but can I say I enjoyed games on that system more than I did when I was playing on a laptop with AC97 audio and simple stereo speakers? Probably not. So it's not important to me. In this P45 machine, I've had an X-Fi XtremeGamer at one point, and even fiddled with Creative ALchemy a bit, and still wasn't all that impressed compared to the built-in Realtek HD Audio codec. I realize some differences must be there, I just don't care enough.
I do use my computers for more than gaming, and in fact gaming is not even what I do most. As such I much prefer the better UI, richer feature set and vastly improved program compatibility of Windows 7 to that of Windows XP. The preceding points, except compatibility, also apply to Vista vs XP, which is why I was perfectly happy with Vista on this computer, until compatibility became a serious pain in the neck.
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