This opinion may be obsolete in terms of operating systems since I have fallen behind the times of the latest and greatest.
I have within the last couple of months had the experience of working with Windows 7 after 11 years of using Windows XP, with both operating systems the professional versions.
I find Windows 7 to have some annoying features after working for many years with XP and getting into habits with that operating system. For some reason in Windows 7 there is this tendency when several windows are open navigating through files for any window close to the top of the screen to be drawn like a magnet to full screen view. This becomes annoying and obstructive when attempting to navigate between two or more windows simultaneously. Seems Windows XP provided better control with this problem.

I also dislike in Windows 7 the disappearance of the move option that always appeared in the left panel of Windows XP Explorer. With Windows 7 it appears the only way to move files is through the mouse option of dragging and dropping a file. This creates the potential of higher probability of misplacing a file since you might accidentally drop a file into another folder using the mouse or other pointing device. I believe there was better control with the file browser navigation option, a second option in Windows XP to avoid having to use drag and drop.
Another problem with elimination of the move file and folder feature of the left panel in Windows XP is using the simple file sharing between two computers in Windows 7. You cannot move files and folders between two computers anymore with Windows 7, you can only drag and drop to move a file into a network location and then copy it to another computer. It stays in the file sharing location for transfer and then you need to delete the file or folder to remove it from this location or move it back to some personal folder location where you will now have redundancy of two files created. This is extremely annoying and/or one additional step to the recycle bin or moving through drag and drop out of network file sharing, something that Windows XP had the ability to avoid by having the feature of moving files and folders through network sharing flawlessly.

If you are attempting to create a back up to an external hardware location you cannot move files and folders, the only option is copying. This creates an extra step if you want to permanently remove a file or folder from one location and transfer to somewhere else externally. You have to send the duplicate file to the recycle bin through deleting, and again another step of removing from the recycle bin. A further problem with having to copy a file to an external location is that you also loose information about the historical creation date of that file which ideally should remain accessible through moving files. The only way to preserve such information is to manually write notes inside that file through the properties right mouse click option where you can add text. I consider this to be a security flaw since you loose the time stamp that used to be un-removable in the properties information panel view option. I also find this option to be a problem for iterative saving of files as I often use while working on graphic arts files through stages of development and trying to figure out which file was created first especially in unexpected crashes of the graphic arts software I might be using at a specific time. With regards to this problem Windows XP was much better with these features available.

Although Windows 7 does run faster than XP I believe there is better control of your computer with XP. Windows XP was one of the last operating systems you could buy installation discs for and run a computer without an internet connection. Not everyone wants to use every computer they have on the internet. The traditional use of a computer was offline with discs and later with progress the ability to use plug-in devices without any internet connection. Computers were traditionally used to run application software for amusement, development, or productivity purposes. They seem to be taking away your ability to control your own computer and become vulnerable to any of the security risks of running a computer that is connected to the internet. I prefer to pick and choose a computer to run on the internet and others for security and privacy that have the ability to run offline without any internet connection. I believe Windows made a bad change decision requiring users of their operating systems to be dependent upon internet connections to use their computer with a Windows operating system. Their are many circumstances where an internet connection is not a necessary reason for using a computer and only creates a potential hazard and security risk, something you at least had the option of choosing with Windows XP.

Comparing Media Player on Windows XP to Windows 7 I believe XP worked less chaotic as a data base for playing music and provided much better control. I have many CDs, records, and tapes converted to mp3's that were a lot better organized and controlled in Windows Media Player the XP version. With Windows 7 any time I add a folder of a CD or cassette tape/LP to Media Player I get two copies in the Media Player library, a very annoying problem that did not occur in the XP version. Windows XP Media Player worked flawlessly as a data base library for music folders and files. Has Microsoft ever heard of the expression " If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It"?
There is one feature I do like about Windows 7 that was unavailable in XP. The ability to shrink a hard drive and create additional partitions. With XP you had to buy third party software that did not always create expected results, especially with compatibility issues of software designed for earlier Windows operating systems. The only option you had with XP was to erase and reformat a disc to create partitions. All your partitioning plans had to be taken into consideration before you started using a hard drive to efficiently use the entire disc, and with time situations always changed for needs. Since many computers came with XP preinstalled you could not change the size of the hard drive that ran the operating system using Windows XP, instead you had to use a third party software program that did not always produce intended results successfully.

With the exception of the ability to shrink a partition and the fact that Windows 7 does most operations and procedures faster than XP I believe the older Windows XP was the best operating system that Microsoft had to offer for my personal objectives of using a computer. So far as the speed and running faster issue is concerned I am willing to have an operating system that is slower for the advantage of features that are no longer available in Windows 7. In some situations patience is a virtue, especially when the issue of better control is the trade off.