Eventually, as the Internet and operating system bloated, performance dropped to such an extent that I only kept it around for emergencies. (Such as trying to figure out why my normal computer wasn't working right.) Uninstalling features and using the various cleanup utilities made little difference.
Then, last January, I came across a new old idea: Linux. Specifically, Lubuntu:
Lubuntu is a fast and lightweight operating system. The core of the system is based on Linux and Ubuntu. Lubuntu uses the minimal desktop LXDE, and a selection of light applications. We focus on speed and energy-efficiency. Because of this, Lubuntu has very low hardware requirements.The netbook is useful again. The interface is (obviously) different than Windows, but fairly intuitive. The only major issues were addressed by Googling the problems (e.g., connecting to a wired network to get wireless to work). It allows me to travel with a computer when I don't want to bring my regular laptop or be stuck with the diminutive interface of a smart phone. And it was free.
Thank you, Lubuntu folks.