After removing all evidence of problems that were of my own making...
The Vista laptop is actually running pretty well, and it's a pleasure to use.
Despite having successfully used VMware Fusion for a couple of years now -- basically, a canned Windows XP environment lives on my hard disk and I kick it off whenever I need it (not often) - Carrie and I found ourselves in the absurd position of having a houseful of Macintoshes and being in the market for a Windows laptop.
Some of the software Carrie needs to run to crunch the data she's going to visually interpret is Windows-only.
Some software that I need to stay current on - Adobe Framemaker, for instance - is now available for Windows only. Technical authoring in general is heavily weighted towards Windows; most of the more interesting help and e-learning authoring tools are also Windows-only. MadCap products in particular are Windows-only.
We're not giving up our Macs. But we're a multiplatform household now.