1) My startup is about 10 seconds slower with an i7-3610m/SSD/16gb RAM on Windows 8 than Windows 7. Windows 8 actually boots quicker, but then it loads my startup apps very slowly, and I can't do anything until they're loaded.
2) Out of the box it has crippled functionality in order to push the "app store," which on non-touchscreen devices is fairly useless.
3) Media player
Overall, Windows 8 is just an ugly compromise that makes for a poor tablet OS and an inconvenienced desktop OS. I would recommend anyone with a strong reason to get Windows 8 to try to get Windows 7.
Windows 8 boots faster because it is using a hybrid approach to shutdown. You are really "hibernating" instead of shutting down. If you power off completely the boot time should be about the same.