I wouldn't buy or try Vista either
First, I'd recommend you do a compatibility check with whatever OS you want to upgrade to. This includes Linux as each version and distro has hardware that will and will not work with each of them. Check first, it's cheaper and it will give you some idea as to what conflicts you are going to have, what hardware you will have to upgrade, what software you will not be able to use anymore. Vista is not an OS I'd upgrade to as it has issues with new machines and may not even load into older ones.
Besides that, there isn't a lot Vista will do that XP can't and in some cases it will do it faster. If you are adamant and really want to upgrade, go with XP, if you want Vista, buy a new box and a box of tissues to dry your eyes and blow your nose as it may be one of your biggest regrets.
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