This is a forum to help XP users mate, not for someone to tell us they think it's rubbish and your now using some other OS. I'm using XP Pro and it's rock-solid -- you didn't tell us how you installed it or what your system specs are/were -- your bad experience could have been caused by any number of factors. If you think XP Pro is to blame and it's a bad OS, try telling that to the millions of people worldwide who have very few problems with it. Oh, and as for Product Activation, it's only Corporate/Multi-User Licence editions of XP which don't require it.
I had a lot of problems with stability on my Win2000 box when I got a free trial of XP Home before it was released. All the issues that I had went away with Home. When the Trial lapsed, I bought PRO because I thought that it didn't require activation. All of my stability issues with 2000 came back. I still don't know why.
I should have saved my money and bought Home instead. Better yet, I should have saved even more and just gone to Linux right then but I didn't know. I am now using Ubuntu and I find it runs much better than XP. Everything, from installing software to hardware is easier than XP.
Although I do not have a laptop, I understand that Ubuntu's support of laptops is excellent. Even wireless should work out of the box, provided there are linux drivers, just doing a little research will let you know.