2008 is already quite old. Many Linux distros don't ship applications released last year. It's no wonder if applications from 2008 run fast, they're lighter and do less. Nowadays hardware is more capable and software is optimized with this in mind. For example SSD has better access time so applications can do a lot more disk access and binaries can grow without hurting the usability.
I beg you, test the boot time / word processing / etc of Win8.1 and Win3.11.
What would that prove? That two desktops I consider inferior to what I actually use are... different? Not to mention that boot times and word processing benchmarks tell me nothing at all about my productivity or the quality of my user experience. I can already tell that my system has never booted this fast before (not hyperbole, this is a fact) and that the software I choose to use makes common tasks easier and more enjoyable for me than what I've used in the past. Your experience seems to differ, but I have a hard time believing it's anything but nostalgia or maybe denial.