Does it beat XP? I have been running Windows 7 for about 5 months now and last weekend received the final version. In my opinion there is no need to rush out and buy it. Sure there are some features that are cool but really most people are using their computers to access the internet and both do that well. XP is stable. Microsoft says that they will continue to provide XP updates until April 2014.
Yes it seems faster than XP for now but who knows how Win 7 will be after 8 years of updates and bloat from service packs. I would say if XP is working fine for you, there is no real need to upgrade. Once you open a browser, you really don't notice the OS.
Does it beat XP? Yes, but nothing earth shattering IMO.