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Many automatically run when Windows starts up, yet most of them don't need to and should only use up resources when you actually need to use them.
At the right side of the taskbar, click the upwards-facing arrow to display the notification icons. Some are essential - antivirus software for example - but others may not be.
Select the Services tab, tick ‘Hide all Microsoft services' and see what's left.
On the Startup tab (use Task Manager - right-click on the taskbar and choose Task Manager in Windows 8 and Windows 10 to find this) are lots of programs that start with Windows.
Knowing what to disable isn't easy, but you can use Google to search for items and see if they are necessary, useful or neither of those.
There may be services you can live without and clearing the tick box prevents them from running.
For example, Firefox works perfectly well without the Mozilla Maintenance Service.
Out of date drivers, programs and Windows itself can cause the computer to run slowly.