If you're the impatient type, try pairing a high performance SSD with Windows 8/8.1. That's what Dell did with the XPS 15 Touch and it's about as close to instant-on as we'll get until true, instant-on becomes a reality. More specifically, we were able to boot into Windows in about 10 seconds, and it only took 6 seconds to shut down.
Even though Dell is a bulk OEM builder, the company has been veryl good about not bogging down its XPS systems with copious amounts of bloatware. McAfee security software is installed -- you get a 12-month subscription to the AV service -- but for the most part, this is a clean desktop.
By that same token, there's not a ton in terms of pre-loaded software. Microsoft Office is on there, but it's only a trial version, and other than McAfee, there really aren't any software-based value adds. We're okay with that, as we'd rather pick out our own software versus spending time uninstalling programs we have no intentions of using anyway.
In terms of utilities, Dell does include a handy interface for quickly looking up driver downloads, support contacts, and so forth. You can also create a system backup, which Dell's software encourages you to do.