UPDATE (Nov 2014): Given how many hits this and the other post are generating, I have to warn you that VS 2010 is seriously old. With the new Visual Studio version you can still compile for XP and there is no point in continuing to use VS 2010 anymore, unless you are already using it — and pushing a deadline. Please read the last section of this post to find the links to the free and commercial version of VS.
(Nov 2010): A quick press — I was running Visual Studio Express 2010 on XP a couple of days back and I found it to be rather slow. The intellisense was performing horribly and the entire system was rather sluggish with a ridiculous amount of disk access — almost to the point where I had to physically shut the system down using the power switch. I initially thought it was an install problem, but ironically realized it wasn’t the case after losing another half hour in a reinstall. After googling around (, which I should have done earlier,) I found some people had similar problems and the solution to the problem is rather simple. You just need to update the Automation API to version 3.0. 🙁 Windows 7 already has the latest API and doesn’t have this problem.
UPDATE: Another input from a friend. Apparently you can speed things even more by using /SafeMode switch. Unfortunately it may create problems with third-party plugins you may have with your Visual Studio. For Visual Studio Express, which doesn’t support plugins, you can try this option. I must say however, I didn’t find too much of a difference myself on my current project. UPDATE 2: Apparently all my problems were solved after following steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 mentioned here. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/ff716700 Update (Not really): Neither me nor most programmers I know who are using VS 10 could solve this issue satisfactorily. I would recommend moving projects to Visual Studio 2012. It is much better and more stable than VS 2010. It’s been out for a while now and there’s no point in continuing with VS 2010 that clearly has some issues with speed and disk access. Visual Studio 2012 : http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads
Visual Studio 2012 Express : http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/products/visual-studio-express-products