I don't think anyone sells a laptop without an OS installed. If it's a used one, you'll probably want to wipe it though.
Speed, heat, weight, power, and just overall better were my thoughts. But you may be right that it isn't worth it. She is not "pursuing performance" like we are. Anyone else have opinions on this. I was looking at a sub $100 SSD. She wont use more than about 64GB.
The small SSD are pretty cheap now, and pretty much anyone would notice the computer being much "snappier". I would say a SSD is the one thing the average person would notice as an upgrade, since they probably aren't using more then 25% CPU ever.
Hopefully "windows 9" or whatever will have the speed and simplicity of 8, but with the ease of use and productivity of 7. And hopefully better looking. Man W8 is UGLY!
Ease of use and productivity is already in windows 8, you just have to get used to it being different. I don't think Microsoft is going to backtrack much for W9. I had the same problem with the new start menu that came with XP... I set that to classic mode first thing. Years later I stopped bothering and just used the new one... admittedly it would have been easier if I had just started using the new one from the start.