I didn't want to go to Vista either, but I have to admit that my fears were unjustified. As long as you have the power to run it, Vista is as good as any other MS product. (Ha! It's actually better.)

I was also replacing an old Dell, and wanted to avoid the layered crap software that comes packed on every mass-produced machine now (free trials of a dozen things I never wanted).

I bought a refurbished Velocity Micro. It's set up for gaming, but that also gives me the power to handle photos and video. It has 4Gb of RAM and quad processors (2 dual processors running parallel, to be exact) and a smoking video card. It came loaded with Vista 64bit Pro and NOTHING ELSE. It boots in about 12 seconds flat.

$800. $5 shipping. That's with no peripherals, but I had everything else. I did go buy a nice new monitor to take advantage of that video card, though. I got mine through one of the deal-of-the-day sites (1saleaday.com). dodtracker.com is a good place to start, or, as others have said, get a local shop to build you a machine.

The only peripheral for which there was no Vista 64bit driver was my scanner, but that was 10 years old and free, so I was not heartbroken about needing to upgrade. I run a home network with older machines using various versions of Windows OS, and have started to stick my toe into Linux, and so far (six months in) there are no glitches. Don't fear the Vista.