The only way for you to prove that your drive is degrading is to benchmark. Continuous benchmarking is one way of driving your SSD to the grave. Your slowdowns could be caused by multiplicity of things. I don't use windows anymore, but one thing i HATED with a passion about Vista and the Window 7 beta i used was that there was CONSTANT DISK ACTIVITY. There are tons of log files being updated. All you have to do to verify what i am saying is go to the performance toolbar and pull up the selection that shows the disk activity, cpu, etc. When you look at the disk activity, look at all the files that are constantly updated frequently. Microsoft needs to better job at minimizing this.
I can tell you if you have indexing enabled on the SSD, it is a no-no. I believe you should have write-caching turned on.
Maybe some other might provide you some windows7 tips. Maybe the moderators should create a sticky post that list win7 optimizations for Intel drives. Without mentioning Intel's competitors, if you go to their forums, their moderators did this and I believe this would help immensely in helping Intel consumers maximize their SSD's potential.
Thanks for the reply dbm. I'm beginning to think this has nothing to do with the ssd and more to do with something interfering with explorer.exe. I downloaded Total Commander as a test and all folders and files open lightening quick through that. I also found that if I navigate through the folder navigation pane (left side) in windows explorer everything opens fast.