I'm looking for suggestions on how to setup a rock solid Windows installation on my Laptop. It's a Toshiba A200 FE0 Satellite, if that helps with a EMU 0404 sound card. I ideally want this for live sound use with Ableton Live so it has to be super stable. I'm assuming Windows XP is my best option for an operating system. Does anybody have a set of guidelines for making sure this is as stable as possible?
Simple - Install what you want, making sure to not install any toolbars or addons, then don't install rubbish.
Windows XP, Vista and 7 are all stable operating systems out the box and you should not have problems with any of them.
You may also want to take a look at taking an image of the machine when you have finished so you have a baseline in case you do install anything else later on.
Lastly, if this is just going to be used for one program and you do not need access to the internet, you can get a bit of extra performance by not installing an Antivirus program, but if you are connecting to the internet, obviously I recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.
I wasn't particuarly happy with the standard Windows XP install for Windows, I ended up customising a Windows boot image using nLite:
This allowed me to bundle only the things I needed (no Internet Explorer, Media Player etc)... giving me a stable super slim Windows XP installation.