A couple of Hardware 2.0 regulars pointed me to a tip posted on Lifehacker on how to engage multiple processor cores in Vista to help boost startup performance.
Is turning your Fiat into a Ferrari really that easy? Afraid not.
The first clue as to the reliability of this tip becomes apparent to anyone trying to follow the tip - If you follow the instructions to the letter ('Run msconfig from the Start Search box (or after hitting Win+R), then head to the "Boot" tab, check "Number of processors ..."') you never actually see anything that says Number of processors because you first have to click on a button labeled Advanced options... first.
Anyway, putting aside the fact that the instructions are themselves wrong, I decided to press on and tested the effect on my quad-core system. Without making any changes this system booted up in 31 seconds. After setting the Number of processors to 4, guess what? Yep, that's right, it too 31 seconds.
Bottom line, this tip is bunk, and that's because Windows automatically uses all the cores available. This Boot.ini tweak is actually a way to get Windows to see fewer cores in order for developers to carry out testing (it's documented properly here). Messing with this setting on you machine could cause problems.
There's no such thing as a free lunch.