third party software can certainly speed things up considerably :P i don't know the details, as i have never explored them before (it's pretty snappy on my desktop system, so i'm never worried
), i'm pretty sure when you use a computer that can run longhorn (which has pretty high specs), you will get snappy performance, so no point in launching any faster (it's not discernable after a point..)
i'm not really sure what do you mean by encryption? you mean out going packets and stuff?
well, considering how well windows does it's OS, i would trust it to provide a antivirus/antispyware software (granted, third party software has holes as well, but it's not ubiquitous, and when most computer has the same software, i'm especially vulunerable... that's why i switched to freebsd :P)..
wow, longhorn is following in the footsteps of linux.. providing more and more "variety", or basically versions that contains progressively less software..
have you ever used this "HD moniter"? is it good? if so, how?