One of my machines exhibited that. The hard disk was the culprit. We fixed it by putting in a new drive.
I'm not writing that's your issue, but it's too suspicious. Or you have 32 Meg of RAM.
For the last few weeks whenever I turn on my Compaq Presario 1200 laptop, the Windows Me screen will stay on for up to 1/2 hour. I can hear the computer working away and then finally it will continue to my desk top screen. I have tried starting in safe mode and it does the same thing so I don't think it has any thing to do with my startup group. This is a real pain and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.