Software & First Boot
It's tough going back to a mechanical hard drive after you've experienced the snappy performance of an SSD, but if you're not ready to make the leap cost-wise, shop for a system that supplements the HDD with an mSATA SSD. it makes all the different in the world. We saw it with Dell's Inspiron 14z and here again with HP's Envy Ultrabook 6t-1000. Even with the bloat that comes pre-installed (more on that in a moment), our system booted up in 33 seconds and shutdown in 11 seconds. Those are good figures for a Windows 7 rig running a relatively pokey 5400 RPM hard drive.
Once you've booted into Windows for the first time, you'll want to spend some time assessing which bundled utilities you might use and which ones are destined for the virtual dumpster. HP didn't go completely crazy loading up the 6t-1000 with bloatware, but it's far from a clean desktop. In addition to various bits of junk (like the eBay link), HP pre-loaded several of its own software programs and utilities. The real time-suck comes from researching what each one does.
None of the utilities are particularly critical to the system's core functionality, though some provide a user-friendly frontend for less experienced users to dive into some of Windows deeper settings. The HP Security Assistant, for example, walks users through some of Windows built-in security features and also helps backup system files.