You're doing it wrong. I never had any perfomance issues when I used to use Atom netbooks. You need to tweak the OS a bit to get usable performance. Oh and Windows 8 is alot faster than 7, so it's better to install that and add classic start to get the start menu back as well as disable the completely unneccesary visual affects. Windows XP perforrms good on netbooks, probably better than anything else, but due to security issues that is no longer an option.
Not everyone can affor modern hardware, especially in poorer countries, but people want to be able to run a modern OS. The best option to get the balance is to have sofware that is efficient and cant take advantage of different hardware types.