I decided to try running Windows 7 Ultimate on my netbook (an Asus EEE PC), since I had heard that it was nearly as fast as XP (and much more modern). I installed it by burning the ISO (acquired by virtue of being an MSDN subscriber) and then booting the netbook from an external DVD drive. I am happy to report that Windows 7 works like a charm, with the only major wrinkle being that I had to reinstall the ACPI drivers along with some of the other Asus utilities to get the special function keys working as they did before. (The link there is a decent summary of what is required, although I actually came across this information elsewhere.)
Windows 7 takes longer to boot than XP on the EEE PC, but performance is comparable once the OS is loaded — I have no complaints about the experience so far. The only other strange thing is that the video driver seems to have issues with coming out of sleep mode — the nice thing is that the Vista driver model allows the OS to completely restart the graphics system, so the machine actually recovers gracefully from this. I’m hoping that there will be future driver updates to solve this issue, but it’s not a big deal at this point.