I've been using Windows since version 3.11 back in the early 90s, so I know my way around this increasingly sturdy OS. However, I'm somewhat terrified of Windows 8 due to all the ridiculous UI changes.
However, my Windows 7 install is starting to show its age, so I think it's finally time to move on. I've got an ISO of Windows 8.1 that I got from work (telecomuters are allowed to install it on our home machines), a legit CD key, and a willingness to do some expert fiddling to get my Windows 8 install working the way I want it, rather than the way Microsoft seems to think I should want it.
What third-party software should I get to let me use my machine the way I've become accustomed to? What's the best way to go about actually installing the new OS? Should I make a bootable USB stick from the ISO? Will that even work in my ~4-year-old machine which I'm pretty sure still runs on BIOS rather than that new-fangled thing (UEFI?).
What else should I learn before going through with the install? I'm not going to upgrade my existing install, as I have learned the hard way to always install an OS fresh. So I'm planning to re-partition my main SSD (which currently have Win 7 on it), into two parts. Can the windows 8 installer do that for me? I seem to recall the Windows 7 one being capable of that, though I'm not sure.
I really want to like Windows 8, so having the smoothest possible transition from 7 is going to be really important.
EDIT: And now I feel foolish, as mere seconds after posting this, I found this thread which appears to contain much of what I'm asking for here. Sorry for being such a forum noob, folks! But any specific advice you might have would still be greatly appreciated.