Just to provide context...
I have been using computers since the late 1960s (timeshare main frame in those days). I bought my first PC in 1982 (with DOS 1.1). I'm retired now but in my past career, computers were never my core job but they were always part of the job. I'm now heavily in web design, video and photo editing. All this to say, I won't claim to be an expert but I am very comfortable with computers.
In my view, the whole issue here is "What do people use computers for?"......
People don't use computers to use the operating system. It's only purpose is to provide a platform and consistent user interface for the programs that are used to get real work done. As such, it is supremely frustrating for most users to be required to learn a new OS interface that merely allows them do do what they already know how do do with the old interface. If a new program or OS provides a truly better, faster or more powerful function, then the learning curve is worthwhile. In my view, the new Win 8 Start Page and apps do not meet this requirement.
Similar to Matt Baxter-Reynolds father, I had to buy a new desktop and it came with Win 8. This ended up being my most frustrating computer experience ever! I also bought a new Solid State Drive with the intention of installing it and transferring Win8 to it. Of course, the new system didn't come with a Win 8 DVD and the manufacturer wouldn't supply any media that would allow me to re-install the OS. Ultimately, I had to purchase Win 8 media (it's a long story). The HDD that came with the new system was GPT formatted for the UEFI BIOS. Win 8 would not natively format the new SSD as GPT and complete a UEFI installation. In total, I spent almost 2 weeks before finally getting Win 8 successfully installed on the SSD.
In addition to the new PC, my home network has a Win XP computer and media server. Win 8 was unable to see either and a password was necessary to access Win 8 from the XP machine and media server. I was unable to fix this problem so I reluctantly called Microsoft tech support. It took 3 calls and over 4 hours on-line before the MS tech could fix the problem (this included a referral to a Level II tech). To their credit, their service was prompt, dedicated and very helpful. This was very unexpected! GOOD FOR YOU MICROSOFT!
OK so now Win 8 is working perfectly and I'm determined to learn the new interface:
1. Many of the programs that were re-installed have multiple menu links in the old cascading Start menu (eg. Read Me or other non-specific titles). Each of them appeared as a separate tile on the Win 8 Start page. I have a wide variety of programs and ended up with a mess of tiles that didn't have a clear reference to their parent program. It took a lot of time but I identified the parent and rearranged the tiles into appropriate groups. This was an unnecessary and time consuming manual step that would not have been required with a cascading start menu. Even after this was done, my Start page was excessively large making it harder to start any program. (i.e. cluttered with "Read Me", "uninstall" and other seldom used tiles)
2. The Win 8 Apps - Give Me a Break! They all run full screen! This is just stupid on my 28" monitor. Here's a silly example. I'm not a gamer but occasionally, I might play a game or 2 of Minesweeper while I'm waiting for a video to render. In an older OS, Minesweeper runs in a small window so that I can watch the progress of the video rendering and be ready to return to real work when the rendering is complete. Win 8 Minesweeper runs full screen, and has no option to minimize or resize the window.
3. With a 28" monitor, I normally have my e-mail program open in one window and another app (usually a browser) in another window, each of them taking half the screen. Win 8 apps Mail and IE - they both run full screen. Geez! The OS is called "Windows". It should use windows!!!!!!
4. There is both a desktop and Win 8 app version for IE and they operate differently! Geez!
I could go on and on but this post is already too long.
I stuck with the Win 8 interface for quite a while but I finally go so frustrated that I installed "Classic Start Menu" and "ModernMix" to return Win 8 to a more traditional interface. I also installed other programs such as Thunderbird and Chrome to make it more usable.
After having done this, I like Win 8. It is much faster to boot, operate and shut down. However, some of this will be due to the new hardware. So far, it also seems rock solid.
So this is my bottom line.....
I understand Microsoft's objective to unify the desktop/tablet/smartphone interface (for their own profitability reasons). However, I believe that they have miscalculated. The Win 8 interface doesn't work well on a desktop/laptop where real work is done and windows are a benefit. The Win 8 interface is probably better on a smartphone where most are unlikely to be multi-tasking and certainly not creating complex spreadsheets.
If Microsoft was to release Windows 8.1 with the option of a Classic start button and apps with a "close/minimize option", they could have a winner on their hands.