what is active services and how do you disable?
I too have this issue. I suspect it is not as bad as the OP's own. But I posted about this when I first bought this game. This game is too great to be held back by this. Using .NET and XNA are probably its major issues. The fact that its tied to those.
DW needs a new rendering engine which uses the GPU and not the CPU. Should be fairly easy for a developer to do a rendering engine or license a cheapish one, you don't have to replace or recode the game logic.
But the decision to leave DW running on this crappy engine, after all these years and three expansion packs doesn't surprise me from a developer who releases no demo for their game and charges outrageous amounts compared to similar games. They shoot themselves in the foot, my only reason for it could be they do not want too many people playing DW.
DW is so awesome even with the engine flaw, the cumbersome UI. A demo of this game would surely get more people to fork out. Who is gonna fork out 100 dollars for a game with no demo?
Anyway I digressed. My Core i7, nuff ram, nuff everything gets sputter issues on large scale combat, when the ships start to shoot. Yet people are here saying they get no issues on all settings, large galaxies, large combat with low end computers.
These reasons make it difficult for a fix for one person to fix for another. Could be firmware, mb drivers, multiple core issues, windows issues, all those issues in one, some of those issues.
I've heard someone say turning star density to lowest and setting FPS to like 15, smooths it out, try that along with the other suggestions see if it helps you out.