The AXE027 cable uses the FTDI USB<>serial chipset, which is generally considered to be one of the best quality and most reliable USB chip/driver combinations available. We would very closely with FTDI to ensure the Windows drivers are the best possible.
The default FTDI driver setting includes a 16ms 'latency' on data transfer. The technical reasons behind latency are quite complicated, but latency is basically added to increase reliability of the USB<>serial conversion system, which obviously works, as the AXE027 is extremely reliable!
Latency does however slow down data transfer, making a PICAXE download slightly slower. Prolific drivers appear to use no latency at all, which is why they do a quicker download. (As a side note we also have an increasing number of reports of 'cheap' USB adapters that are supposed to use a Prolific chipset but actually have a fake chip inside, and hence do not work at all with the PICAXE system).
But the good news is that, if you want to, you can change the FTDI latency to anything between 1 and 255 ms (16 is the default) via the FTDI driver settings. By changing to 1ms you can at least halve your overall download time. But be aware this may reduce the reliability when transferring large amounts of data.
To adjust the AXE027 latency:
1) Right click over the 'AXE027 PICAXE USB' listing in Control Panel>Device Manager>Ports (COM & LPT).
2) Click Properties
3) Select the 'Port Settings' tab and click the 'Advanced' button
4) Change the Latency setting from 16 to the desired value (1ms is the fastest possible), then click OK
We welcome feedback as to how people get on with different latency settings on different versions of Windows.