I really almost hate to say it ... but, y'all know me as someone who speaks my mind. Here goes ... it almost hurts to say it. It's kind of like sitting on the throne trying to ... well, you know ... ugh ... here goes:
Win8 is OK
I've been testing and playing with the thing for a year. Never could bring myself to like it. Even bought myself a new Dell Laptop with the purpose of avoiding the thing altogether. The trouble was ... they gave me a coupon to get it for $14.99.
Today I had one of those days where you just don't have anything better to do. I figured, what the heck ... I won't miss $15 and a day of tinkering. I wonder what the really released version of the thing might look like? Probably the same as the RC a month ago. So I ante'd up the $15 and downloaded it. Made an image backup of the system fully intending to restore it back to Win7 at the end of the day. No danger of loss. I wanted to see if the upgrade of my complex development box could be accomplished without losing a ton of stuff and I had a few people asking me about Win8, so I wanted to give it a fair evaluation.
Long story short: the upgrade went very well. Only a handful of utilities that I didn't need had to be removed. The install took an hour or so (considering the complexity of my system). Once running I discovered that the desktop had everything exactly the way I left it. Metro sits quietly in the background: I don't have to even bother with it if I don't want to. Even the slightly flattened desktop (sans Aero) is OK. (I thought I'd miss Aero but I really don't).
Haven't run everything just yet but the important things seem to run fine. Office 2003 is no problem. Visual Studio 2008 ... runs fine. Desktop seemed kind of sluggish at first but once it settled down everything seems in order, maybe slightly snappier. Start-up of the system is about the same as Win7 is, at the desktop level. My desktop loads a lot of things so it takes a bit of time to settle down. No different than 7. The main boot is fairly fast, but only into Metro. If your desktop is complex it will take the same time to initialize as it did under Win7. Sleep mode works about the same, too. Don't buy the idea that Win8 is an "instant on" system. Not if you're using much in the desktop it isn't. However, it's no worse than Win7 was.
The key thing for me here was that the system is pretty much the same as it was with minor enhancements. During my testing I felt that the Metro would be too intrusive. Maybe it took throwing my full setup at it to realize that it's not. The desktop doesn't have the gadgets which I kind of liked but that's not a big deal. As for the Start Button ... it really ain't hard to find the corner or tap the Windows button on the keyboard. I think we've all made too big a deal about that. I can continue my desktop development with no concern that things will break. A big relief as far as I'm concerned.
Should you upgrade from Win7? Honestly ... I don't know yet. It's certainly not a need if you're mainly a desktop user. If you want something of Metro but are concerned that something you're using will break (as I was concerned) ... it's probably going to be OK. I'm actually pretty impressed that my entire development system converted as cleanly as it did. Even my Dell Dock was preserved (in which I have a TON of things loaded). I won't need Metro very much, not to launch desktop apps anyway.
As for the Metro apps ... they seem OK. I'll play with them a bit. I don't think this will motivate me to replace my iPad and iPhone with anything Microsoft but at-least it still synchronizes with those things fine so I haven't lost anything and have gained years in terms of support life. (As if 2020 was any too soon for Win7).
I guess the bottom line here is that for desktop power-users like myself, the upgrade is safe. I can continue to do what I already do but if I somehow feel motivated to explore the Metro it's there. It's kind of a relief to know that it's this compatible with what I was already using. So far so good.