not planning on using XP for anything other then tethered shooting, can somebody tell me how to get rid of all the STUFF that comes with XP?
Most stuff is really integrated into the OS, unless you know what you are doing you should not mess with it (unless you feel like spending nights behind the screen fixing)
You can make sure that no unnecessary programs are started at boot-up but if you only installed just the OS there shouldn't be that many. Look in, 'start, programs, startup' delete anything in there. Right click on programs you don't need that you will see in the task bar (bottom right) and look for the tickbox that says 'start up automatically' or something similar. The last thing that starts at boot up can be found in the registry (HKEY local machine/software/microsoft/windows/startup & HKEY current user/software/microsoft/windows/startup). Delete these and you are cleaner. There are also several services you might disable (right click my computer, manage and expand the tree till you see services).
Again, if you don't know what you are doing, don't touch it but I know.... enquiring minds want to know
I used to trim down Windows until the bare minimum. In the old days I could get 3.11 to run on less than 4MB disk space (CP/M from a single 5 1/4 floppy but lets not count that ). Nowadays I just buy faster hardware which is much cheaper and less hassle. Unbelievable how little real progress we have made in the last 20 years. Fundamentally most stuff is still the same, just gotten really complicated and bloated.