Software & First Boot
Windows 8 has received a fair share of criticism for shoving the Modern user interface down users' throats, but underneath the hood, Microsoft made some impressive tweaks to the underlying code. Combined with a fast SSD, boot times are blistering fast. Dell claims its XPS 13 boots cold to Windows in 12 seconds, and we can confirm that's true. It's as close to the coveted 'instant on' scenario as we've ever seen, and it's even faster when waking from sleep mode (about 3 seconds).
Bearing in mind that this is a pre-production model, our system wasn't saddled with a bunch of bloatware. Most of what's installed hitched a ride with Windows 8. No third-party antivirus software or game trials came pre-installed, and to Dell's credit, that's more often the case than not these days with its XPS line.
For those of you who are curious, you can kick the tires with Microsoft's subscription-based Office 365 suite via a 30-day trial. Dell is the only major OEM offering an Office 365 Home Premium trial subscription with the purchase of a new PC, whereas its competitors are pushing Office 2013.
A monthly subscription to Office 365 Home Premium runs $9.99, or you can pay $99.99 upfront for an entire year. Subscriptions cover up to 5 PCs (or Macs) and include 20GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month.