Sure, being able to click and drag an online map was neat when it first came out, but faster than clicking an arrow in the corner? Not for me... I'd rather have it move in whole, consistent, step sizes. And faster? Hell no! I sit around waiting several seconds for Google maps to load up, prompt after prompt to "keep waiting" or else any address you type in will get munged.
Wow. How's the weather back in 1998?
I've got a PC that I built for $300 in 2008, and two macbooks (the bottom of the line models. Not the Pro). They're all behind a perfectly average comcast cable modem. Running Google Chrome, google maps loads just as fast as any desktop app, on any and all of 'em. This is not a bleeding edge setup.
So... Is it your Pentium 2, or your 9600 baud modem that's holding you back?
You're right... AJAX doesn't run great on systems built before the turn of the century. If you don't like it, pick up a system that has more than 64 meg of ram. You have every right not to upgrade, but if you choose not to, you have no right to bitch.
The "everything should run on my Windows 95 machine" mindset drives me nuts. I bet driving your Model T on the interstate isn't much fun either.