One of the specs for my very first pc was that it has a VLB 2d windows graphics acelerator. Ie the desktop has been hardware accelerated for nearly 9 years.
As for 3d acceleration on the desktop in Win2k it is possible to set transparency levels for each window, thus you can see windows underneath other ones if you like. This suggests to me that it must have a z buffer for the desktop and thus maybe 3d acceleration.
>You would probably need FSAA with any software you use
Actually, that'd probably worsen the situation, as you'd be asking your already tired eyes to focus moreso on blurry text. So you're just asking for trouble. A much better solution would be to lower your resolution, use larger text, or, if you're photosensitive like me, use reverse video (that is, choose a color scheme that makes white black and black white).
FSAA only works in 3D accelerated games and applications (Glide, Direct3D and OpenGL). Windows can utilize videocard hardware to accelerate graphics but it's only 2D acceleration (DirectDraw). 3D accelerators are specifically designed to handle 3D data (vertices, polygons, etc.), using them to accelerate 2D graphics would be pointless.