Whenever I do an install or a re-intall of "Windows (Windows)":http://www.microsoft.com/, I do coupla Must-Do-Tweaks. I have them written down so I know how to execute them in steps. Let me archive some of them here for future reference.

*Customize Folder Context Menu*

Start > Run and type "Regedit"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\Shell\]
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFilesystemObjects\shell\]
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Shell\]

*Shutdown is Slower - Windows XP*

Start > Run and type "Regedit"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
\SYSTEM
\CurrentControlSet
\Control
\Session Manager
\Memory Management]

Set ClearPageFileAtShutdown value to 0

*Alternate method for Windows XP Professional*

Start > Run and type "Secpol.msc"
Click Local Policies | Security Options
In the right-pane, set "Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile" to "Disabled"

However, this setting is not the only cause for slow shutdowns. Non-responsive programs and Services also contribute to slow shutdowns. Lowering the WaitToKillServiceTimeOut may help as well. The WaitToKillServiceTimeout value name in the registry allows you to specify a length of time that the service control manager must wait for services to complete the shut-down request. To do this;

Start > Run and type "Regedit"

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
\SYSTEM
\CurrentControlSet
\Control
\WaitToKillServiceTimeout

Then, reduce the Service timeout value (default being 20000ms) to your preference.

Similarly, set the AutoEndTasks to 1 in the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER
\Control Panel
\Desktop

"AutoEndTasks" value determines whether user processes end automatically when the user either logs off or shuts down Windows 2000/XP.

*How to Set the Command prompt default path to a certain directory*

When you type CMD in the RUN box, you will see a Command Prompt Window defaulting to your user profile home directory (%Userprofile%). If you want to set the default path to a different directory, you may do so by editing the registry.

Start > Run and type "Regedit"

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor

In the right-pane, double-click Autorun and set the folder there, preceded by a CD\ (as you type in DOS). If Autorun is missing, create a new REG_SZ (String Value) there.

Example: Typing just CD\ makes the Command Prompt default to C:\ drive or whatever drive you've installed Windows. You may also use a batch file so that it executes the contents automatically upon launching the Command Prompt. Some organizations display banners for their employees once CMD is launched.

Type CMD /? in the Command Prompt for a detailed information about it's parameters

*How to locate Documents and Settings folders*

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (Shared all users)
HKEY_CURRENT_USER (Current User)
\SOFTWARE
\Microsoft
\Windows
\CurrentVersion
\Explorer
\User Shell Folders

*How to Turn Off Zip Folders in XP*

Start > Run and type "Regedit"

To turn OFF: regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll
To turn ON: regsvr32 zipfldr.dll

*How to Turn off Error Reporting*

Click through

\Control Panel
\System
\Advanced tab
\Error Reporting

*Prior articles on similar topic*

* "File Access Denied on Windows XP and how to take ownership (File Access Denied on Windows XP and how to take ownership)":http://www.brajeshwar.com/archives/2005/09/file-access-denied-on-windows-xp-and-how-to-take-ownership/
* "Safe-Guard Microsoft Outlook Datas (Safe-Guard Microsoft Outlook Datas)":http://www.brajeshwar.com/archives/2005/03/safeguard-microsoft-outlook-datas/
* "Custom Documents and Settings Folder (Custom Documents and Settings Folder)":http://www.brajeshwar.com/archives/2004/07/custom-documents-and-settings-folder/
* "Custom Favorites Folder (Custom Favorites Folder)":http://www.brajeshwar.com/archives/2003/09/damn-i-have-to-share-this-tip/

Note: In future, instead of spawning new articles, I should just append new tips/tricks to this article.
It is always better to back-up your registry before trying out anything with it.

Update - Links
* "Windows XP/2000 Commands & Tools (Windows XP/2000 Commands & Tools)":http://www.networkclue.com/os/Windows/commands/index.aspx
* "Command-line reference A-Z (Command-line reference A-Z)":http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/ntcmds.mspx
* "Customize a new Windows XP Installation (Customize a new Windows XP Installation)":http://www.petri.co.il/customize_a_newp_xp_installation.htm