It's remarkable that my XP machine that has been working without problem for a couple of years suddenly started to lock up with monotous regularity at around the same time that Windows Vista is widely available.
After trying unsuccessfully to ignore the problem (when you're writing code your machine locking up is a tad annoying) I was forced to investigate.
The cause? Windows Update. Despite the fact that I don't allow it to automatically instal updates, Windows Update now causes the svchost.exe process to run at 100% cpu and effectively crashes the machine. Ending the svchost.exe process also causes several other essential Windows Services to stop working making the machine more or less unusable unless you restart all the Services you trashed by ending svchost.
Microsoft KB 927891 has a partial fix but apparently we have to wait until June before we get the final instalment. (the kb patches msi but apparently a new version of Windows Update is also required).
Anyway, the patch makes no difference. Just go to Control Panel and turn off Automatic Updates altogether and then wait until Microsoft finally fix it.
The big question is whether this was deliberate on Microsofts part?
After all the only reason most people upgraded from Windos for Workgroups to Win 98 to Win 2000 is because it didn't work properly. So if you've got W2K why would you want to upgrade? XP is just W2k with a different interface and license checking.
Why do I want Vista? I'd probably have to buy a new machine, have to reinstall everything, fight with applications and drivers that don't work under Vista and learn a whole new set of tricks for what benefit?
Unless of course my current operating system has started falling around my ears every day and I don't have the time, knowledge or patience to identify the cause.
I can only come to the conclusion that either Microsoft are incompetent and irresponsible in allowing the Windows Update process to introduce a major problem into millions of machines OR it was a cynical process to encourage desperate users to upgrade in the hope of fixing the problem.