I was running into a problem where Microsoft Office programs, such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint were taking "too long" to start and show an empty document. 

After I determined that there was plenty of memory and CPU available, and defragmented my drive, they were still slow to start.

It turns out they were attempting to connect to a printer that wasn’t there.  I have a laptop, and (surprise, surprise) I use it in different locations.  When the Windows default printer isn’t attached, Office programs try to do something to it on start-up, and they have to wait until it times out.

The solution: Set the Windows default printer to a PDF virtual printer.  It is always available.