VirtualBox works fine on XP. I liked VL 5.8 Standard in VirtualBox on Vista so well that I installed it on my XP desktop (3 gigs RAM, Athlon 64 X2 4200+). I do have a large Linux partition on that computer where VL works very well, but I like having the virtual machin, too. There are advantages to running Linux in a virtual machine under Windows (or vice versa) if you need to access something from the other operating system regularly. But there are disadvantages, too, such as weak (or no) USB support and the whole networking issue beyond the Shared Folder, which just applies to the host computer.
Like I said, I'll consider it but it isn't my first choice. I don't want any RAM slowdown since that's primarily why I bought a new machine in the first place.
Vista is not as bad as people on some forums say. In fact, it's not bad at all if you have enough RAM and enough processor power. There is a large element of "geek-chic" at work, where the group-script takes over and people form opinions before they even try something, or have made up their minds to hate it and nothing will convince them otherwise.
I've used Vista many times on other people's machines including my dad's, so I have a good exposure as to how it works. The learning curve for Linux (or Apple) is far greater for XP users than for people going from XP to Vista. Underneath all that eye candy, Vista didn't seem terribly new to me.
What bothers me about it is it represents everything I can't stand about Microsoft. Things like DRM, TPM and having to continually authenticate itself every few hours to Microsoft's servers to see if your legit or not. I don't like the whole big brother "I don't trust you" premise and if Microsoft can't trust me to use their operating system, I really can't trust them to do the right thing other than price gouging the consumer. And now with ugly reports of the next generation Windows 7 operating system being tied to a subscription service, that'll be the deal killer for me. Which is also why I'm here...
My Vista laptop is speedy and stable and almost all the software I've installed has been compatible. Some of that software goes back to the very early 1990s (DOS and Win 3.1 software). I have four printers and they all have Vista drivers. One goes back to 1993 and one to 2000. I wouldn't spend money on a Vista upgrade for my XP desktop because Vista just doesn't have any features that feel compelling enough to warrant the expense and the bother; if I were an eye-candy junkie it would be different. But I wouldn't avoid a new computer with Vista already installed as long as it came with at least 2 gigs of RAM.
XP will be sold until the middle of 2008, so Microsoft will support it for at least 10 years beyond that. There's a lot of fear mongering out there that MS will drop the ball and kill support for XP next year, but that's not gonna happen. Not when you have about 85% of the business and governmental desktops out there running XP and suddenly being left high & dry. Hell, even extended support for Windows 2000 won't end until 2010.
You're right about upgrading, though. There's just no compelling need to do so unless one wants to spend even more money on hardware upgrades.
Anyway, I will take the plunge this weekend and see what happens...