All constructive comment are welcome. If you spot an error, especially one that might screw things up, please let me know.
2007-10-23: Original publication
2007-10-23: Unpublished by staff for lack of illustrations.
2007-10-24 & 25: Added some screenshots.
Step 1: Get Rid Of The Bling, Check Your Hardware, Make Sure Auto-Update Is On
2) Click the Advanced tab. (see 1st picture 01-01-01.png)
3) Click the Settings button in the Performance section. (see 2nd & 3rd pictures 01-01-02a.png, 01-01-02b.png)
4) Visual Effects is the default tab, so select Adjust for best performance. Check the features you can't live without - I use Smooth edges of screen fonts, Smooth-scroll list boxes, Use common tasks in folders - YMMV. Don't worry about the Advanced or Data Execution Prevention tabs.
5) Click the Apply button, then the OK button.
6) While you have the System Properties control panel open, click the Hardware tab
(see 4th picture 01-01-03.png)
and then click the Device Manager button. If you see any red X's or yellow ?'s, you have a hardware/driver problem that you need to look into. Not going to fix it now, so close the window. (see 5th pic 01-01-04.png)
7) Now let's see how Automatic Updates is set up - click on the appropriate tab. I use Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them; use what is appropriate for your situation, but make sure it's not turned off. (see 6th pic 01-01-05.png)
8) Last, but not least, click the Remote tab and uncheck both boxes if you don't think you need to give someone else control of your computer. (see last pic 01-01-06.png)