My hardware "scrap pile" contained a Dell Inspiron 530 - not the most glamorous of machines and rather out of date and old, too, but it works and it runs a few pieces of software that I don't want to reboot my Mac for regularly. Problem was, I had to rebuild it because it had multiple OSs installed and none of them worked. Note to self - don't mix 32 and 64 bit Windows on the same partition and expect it to work flawlessly.
My normal development workflow doesn't use that many different Emacs packages. With a few exceptions I've mainly worked with a "stock" Emacs distribution and augmented that with a few select Emacs packages that I downloaded manually. It worked for me for a decade or so, and it made it reasonable easy to move configurations between machines - zip & copy was my friend for that, although I've since changed that to using dropbox.
Ah, a meta blogging post. Sorry, I try to keep these to a minimum...
The Gnu Emacs for Windows distribution appears to be pretty good at inferring where a reasonable place for $HOME is, straight out of the box. In my case, said reasonable place was %USERPROFILE%/AppData/Roaming which was an entirely acceptable default.