XP is over 10 years old and is definitely showing its age.
Ahh yes, but for someone like me, whose still living in the stone age where operating systems are concern, XP is still the same as it's always been, with the exception of a few upgrades along the way (to I.E and Windows Media Player). Your perception of XP is just different because you're use to using these newer iterations.
Well of course the main thing isn't its apparent speed (which is largely a function of what it chooses to pre-load and how much RAM you have available)
The way I understand it, the "pre-fetch" feature tries to anticipate what apps you use, based on what you've used in the past, and it's always good, for a gaming computer, to streamline the OS as much as possible (disabling un-necessary start-up items and services) and doing frequent maintenance.
Drac, when you talk about "how much faster" the new OSs are compared to XP, what specific tasks are you referring to? Launching a program? installing a program? If the former, the aforementioned pre-fetch feature might be what you're seeing. From what I've read, it's a good feature unless you throw it a curve ball, then things tend to take longer than they should. A lot of people disable it for that reason. However, everything I read about it was referring to Vista, which is turning out to be a later form of Windows ME, in that it's Microsoft's first failed attempt to create a new cutting edge operating system.
Not the main thing for sure, but definitely important - at least to me. If you go into Task Manager, you will find far fewer services running in the background for one thing
You said it's a "consumer preview"? I'm sure that will change in the full version.