It sometimes takes ages to shutdown Windows XP and Windows Vista, most of the time when you are in a hurry. This can be caused by processes that are still open or not reacting. Windows tries to close those processes which can take a long time. If you don’t have the time or patience to wait for the shutdown you might want to try the excellent freeware Superfast Shutdown which does exactly what the name suggests.
The shutdown is almost immediate which means it is much faster than the shutdown with the usual registry tweaks that can be applied to reduce the timeout delay for processes. The freeware runs fine on Windows Vista and XP, you should just be aware that Superfast Shutdown ignores everything that is still open and running. This could mean that you loose data that has not been saved. Make sure you save everything important before you activate the shutdown option.
Installing the freeware adds two shortcuts to your desktop. The first is called superfast shutdown and the second superfast reboot. Both options are great if you think that the normal shutdown and reboot procedure takes to long. Again, make sure that everything important is saved before you click on the shortcuts.