When you're tired of hanging around, Lockergnomie Theo Tanalski will save the day: "Does this resemble your system on XP? When you shut down the computer, Microsoft Windows XP may stop responding while the following message is displayed: 'Saving your settings.' When this occurs, you may be able to move the mouse pointer, but when you press CTRL+ALT+DEL, nothing happens. This issue may occur only occasionally. It is a known bug in XP. Don't go to MSKB Q307274 for answers - you'll get the royal runaround. Found this at AUMHA.ORG, inside a comprehensive discussion of shutdown and restart problems: "As a workaround, try dismantling the Windows XP logon Welcome screen. In the Control Panel, click User Accounts, then click 'Change the way users log on or off.' Uncheck the box that says 'Use the Welcome screen.' This removes the initial logon screen with individual icons for each user and, instead, pops up the classic logon prompt that requires each user to type a user name and password." This worked fine for me. Microsoft [likely] does not share this information with users because that would spoil the XPerience."