Okay, well since I run my DOS programs without helpers in XP, I couldn't disagree with you more on #1. I use 1980's Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.01 for DOS natively in XP Pro 32-bit, almost daily, for years; in fact, it won't work in Win98. Can't run it fullscreen in Windows 7; it won't operate at all in Win8-10 without DOSbox. I know, because I had to install DOSbox in Win8 and Win10, to run Lotus 1-2-3 at all.
All my other DOS programs run just fine in XP except I can't run my TSRs (like Sidekick) in any version of Windows, since I run TSRs in conjunction with regular DOS programs. Now maybe there's a way to configure EMS or EXT memory so I can, but I"ve not tried to learn that yet: for I only run TSRs in EXT or EMS memory.
Yes, I use ImgBurn in XP.
Re #3, any 32-bit program is stuck with 3.x GB of RAM, not merely XP.
Re #4-6, I refuse to use SSDs, so don't care, since they weren't invented when XP came out; as for newer machines, I just clean installed an old but unused retail 32-bit XP Pro, bare metal to a brand new drive, inserted into a 2012 Dell Latitude 6530 i5 laptop and there were no hitches, no need for any drivers. I did have to download Net framework 3.5 for the sake of my Intel HD graphics, but that's all.
I don't want anything later than third-gen i5 or i7, because later-gen CPUs are soldered. I want mine insertable and removable and paste-able. So later hardware is not desirable.
Re #7, not a clown theme but classic or any other theme you want to create, you can; for example, you can use Plus! from Windows 98 or 95, or use the 'classic' theme option and create your own in (right-click on desktop) Properties, and in Start Menu Right-click Properties. 100% Customizable Start Menu, also. Most of that is taken away in Windows 7, more taken away in Win8, and totally removed in Win10.
Differ with you also, on the claim about XP search being more limited. Stuff I cannot find on a drive using Win7, I find easily in XP. Granted, with XP you first have to ENTER its search program, and SPECIFY what you want to search, but you find more things faster and better. So much so, I won't use Windows 7 et seq. to search anymore. In fact, I bought ZtreeWin at the suggestion of one of the members here, and it can find EVERYTHING including any text (it's like XtreeGold for DOS, which I believe you know, but this is the Windows version, and it works in Win8 and Win10 even on 32-bit in 64-bit Win10 with ZtreeWin solely installed on a STICK).
And I've never HAD to create a desktop shortcut using the Start Menu. In fact, most installer programs offer to create both a Start Menu program item AND a desktop shortcut FOR you. Or, you just go to the executable and create it, or yeah you can easily go to Start Menu and right-click to create it. AND you can do TWO toolbars, one on top and one on bottom of the screen, with as many icons as you like AND alphabetize them. Win7 only lets you do one 'side'.
I got Direct X 9, and Windows 10 only supports Direct X 10, which I know because I have 64-bit Win 10. Turns out Direct X 12 really can't run yet, in Win10.