That's a grim scenario, xtrchessreal. I downloaded SP1 when it came out as an automatic update; took all night on my dialup connection. I noticed nothing new afterwards, but since then, Vista has performed more sprightly and with remarkably fewer hangups and compatibility problems. The way I see it, MS was way behind schedule on Vista development and released it as a defacto beta version. SP1 brings it up to Version 1.0, Build 1.0 status. I still don't like having an OS taking up over half my .9Gb RAM, and I really dislike all the interferences Vista throws in the user's path. But it is running reliably and more or less predictably now.
On an older computer in another location I am still happily running XP, and while Vista may be more secure (blah, blah, blah), I really can not see much improvement over XP. Until Vista finally settled down on my WalMart/HP Special I seriously considered paying for an XP installation disk and totally trashing Windows Blimpsta. But as you say, EOL is foreseeable for XP, even though a computer guru tells me that worldwide the largest installed base for Windows is still W98, which I believe MS has quit supporting altogether. Methinks the computer consulting industry will have a long and illustrious run with W98. Kinda too bad, because XP was the culmination of the 95/98 promise, when MS finally got it right. In my view, Redmond is following in Detroit's footsteps from a business viewpoint, arrogantly and simultaneously ignoring user's needs while trying to dictate them.