Should be very little difference bar the MCE versions extras. Is there a reason you dont want MCE? You sound like you dont want it for a reason but if it is bundled with a laptop it is usually for a specific reason. You can of course overload it with a fresh XP install, but before you do see if you can live with MCE and if the extras it offers are of any use to you. You can always restore the computer back with just plain XP.