Services and Control Panel
Windows provides a number of services (daemons) that run in the background. These are controlled in part through the services controller, and part through their own property pages. To bring up the services controller, right click on My Computer, and select manage. Then select Services underneath the Services and Applications node in the tree view. The status of a service can be changed by right clicking on it and bringing up its properties. Not only do you want to stop it, but you will also want to change its startup type. The following sections describe how to disable unwanted features.
In order to stop Windows trying to update itself, bring up the System properties, and then change the Automatic Update dialog. The service should probably also be killed through the services controller.
The Error Reporting properties dialog can be found from the System properties (found in the control panel).
The Remote properties dialog can be found from the System properties (found in the control panel).
Windows likes to crunch your hard disk. It will do this at a time that is least convenient to you. If you want to avoid this inconvenience, then bring up the properties for your NTFS disks and remove the tick against the Indexing option.
These can be turned off through the Date and Time Properties dialog.
By default, hibernation is turned off. I do not know what effect turning this on will have. Often a partition (hidden on DELL machines, tut tut tut) is required. I think i'll be leaving this as is.
Work you way through everything else in the control panel, configuring to your taste as you go.