dude you were running WinXP on a 466 Celeron??? No wonder it took the thing 2.5 minutes to boot up! How much RAM did you have in that puppy, 128mb? (sorry, just giving you a hard time ;-)
Having worked with the stupid thing for as long as I have, I don't even consider putting WinXP on a machine unless it's over 1ghz and has at least 512mb of RAM (DDR preferably).
Windows 2000 might have been a better choice (though I suppose not for gaming) for the hardware.
In any event, I totally get what you're saying about your son's frustrations. Hehe I remember that one of the first things I tried to do when I installed Linux a few years back was to try to play that Tux Racer game...except it locked up everytime. And took the whole OS with it.
Sometimes I get the feeling that Linux is better than Windows...only if you don't run a GUI and have the exact right type of generic hardware...