Was talking to a friend about the registry, and realized I couldn't remember the issues Microsoft was trying to solve that brought it into being. I know it had something to do with too many different programs storing their preferences in too many different places/ways, but as I said that it didn't seem like a very strong argument. There must be a better reason.
Part B of the question is: how is the registry stored that it is so SLOW to search? It seems that no matter how fast your processor is or how fast your hard disk is (I just got an Intel SSD), it still takes seconds to search the registry of a VIRGIN XP system...about as long as it took 10 years ago. What fantastic technology enables this aspect of Windows to be immune to CPU & storage progress?
Clarification: I think most people have misinterpreted my question. It seems to me (and I could be completely wrong), that it takes almost as long to do a registry search now as it did a decade ago, which I find surprising given the advances in processing speed. I'm not advocating registry editing (although I've ended up doing more of it than I ever expected over the years) and I'm not complaining that it takes too long - I'm just curious about why the search speed hasn't seemed to scale with processing power over the last 10 years or so. I realized that the registry is like this odd black box to me, hence this question.