try running in 'classic' mode without the bells and whistles. right click the desktop, select properties then appearace, there is a drop down box called windows and buttons switch to 'windows classic style' this saves on some processor cycles and uses slightly less memory. Its no substitute for upgrading your specs but may help in the mean time.
it is possible to do without some of XP's services but you would be well advised to leave those alone until you have more eXPerience.
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