I have a similar problem and i've found out it's because of my AV McAfee Software. If i actully turn it off manually before shutting down, shut-down flies thru but if i leave it and just shut-down it's quite slow. So it's probably some pprogram taking ages to close that's your problem
Thanks for both replies I have followed the advice on the page you directed me to VoG™ but I cant try it at the moment as I am downloading and do not want to switch of but as soon as that is done I will see if it has helped and post back.
I have found it slow at the best of time - if you use a firewall (zone alarm for example) it takes even longer. Note that in all the promo stuff about Win XP - it says 'the fastest start up operating system from Microsoft ever..'. Nothing about it taking 6 years to shut down!