This may have a lot to do with proprietary display drivers, sometimes not available at all for Linux (what's the status of Linux PowerVR drivers anyway?), forcing them to do everything with CPU, and Atom isn't sold for it's processing power.
Also, if you don't mind, I'll take that "all effects turned on" + "very smoothly" with a grain of salt...
Something other than proprietary drivers is at work. I've run the Windows 7 beta under QEMU-KVM, which has no 3D acceleration, and the basic (not Aero) desktop effects run smoothly. Windows appears to be using 2D rendering to produce a false 3D look. Among window managers in Linux, Enlightenment is capable of something similar. A shame that all of the so-called modern desktop environments assume the presence of 3D hardware acceleration.
I suspect that the people responsible for systemd never even thought to look at already-existing alternatives
Is this really Lennart Poettering's blog? I find the part where he describes the Solaris init quite ironic.
There are other init systems besides sysvinit, Upstart and launchd. Most of them offer little substantial more than Upstart or sysvinit. The most interesting other contender is Solaris SMF, which supports proper dependencies between services. However, in many ways it is overly complex and, let's say, a bit academic with its excessive use of XML and new terminology for known things. It is also closely bound to Solaris specific features such as the contract system.
Just change Solaris to Linux and "in many ways it is overly complex" and "closely bound to Solaris specific features" sounds like an apt description of systemd.
Keep in mind that *BSD is not alone. There are other GNU/Linux distributions that avoid it. Gentoo are among the distributions working on things like eudev (so you can keep on using udev without systemd).
But besides Gentoo, are there any other major GNU/Linux distros not planning to adopt systemd? From what I've read, Slackware is just holding out until the last minute. Among the BSDs, FreeBSD has the greatest number of packages. The only thing I don't like is the fiendish mascot.
If at first you don't succeed, you are running about average.