I bought a laptop last year - 1GB memory Celeron-M 1.6Ghz processor, Intel integrated graphics. It came with Vista Home Basic on it. Which equated to practically no eye candy, low performance when more than a couple of apps open and very poor performance when accessing external USB2 hard drive. I used it for a while out of curiosity then installed my usual Slackware Linux on it.
Result - now running a full whizz bang eye-candy Compiz-fusion on top of KDE and can have Firefox, Open Office and numerous other apps. open and usable whilst compiling in a terminal window with a Video Running in Xine for good measure without any apparent slowdown, disk transfers are faster and wireless network is more reliable. All the while all the whizz bang of the eye-candy is working away nicely.
My own personal opinion - for the good and bad of vista, I'm not buying a more powerful laptop just to run an operating system that adds no apparent value for me.