I performed an experiment with my wife last night, who I would qualify as a slightly above average computer user. She hasn't yet looked at Windows 8, and she isn't out reading about it, nor trolling forums to see how it works.
I brought home a work laptop with Windows 8 installed on it. I gave her the username and password to log in. I pressed the power button and walked away.
After about 2-3 minutes, I noticed she wasn't doing anything. I asked her if she got logged in and she said, "no, I'm still waiting for it to bring up the log on screen". I told her it was ready about 2:30 minutes ago. She then clicked on the screen, or hit something on the keyboard and got the log on prompt. Her response, well that wasn't intuitive at all.
The "new windows UI" appeared with the tiles, and she said, "What the hell is this...is this the new version of Windows?". I gave her the task of getting calculator running. About 2 minutes later, she said, "I screwed something up. I got to the desktop, but there is nothing here, and I cannot figure out how to get that first screen back". A few minutes later she said, "I got it". I said, "you got calculator running". She said, "No, i got back to that first screen thingie". I asked her how she did it, and she said "um, I don't remember". So, I told her to click back on the desktop and show me. It took about a minute for her to discover how she did it, she had accidentally discovered the "Charms Bar" and hit the Start Button.
So, now that she was back to the "new Windows UI", I asked her to again launch calculator. It only took her about a minute, and she had calculator up. I asked how she did it, and she said she got that "wierd menu on the right" to pop up and she clicked on search and typed calculator.
Next, I put her back on the "new Windows UI" and asked her to launch mspaint, but WITHOUT using the Charms bar. I kept repeating, launch mspaint, and I was spelling it out, over and over and over again". After about 3 minutes, and her getting nowhere, I said to my 5 year old, "Logan, go find MSPAINT" for mommy. He walked over and naturally just hit the M key and was hunting for the S, when my wife said, "Ah, so you can just type what you are looking for?". So, I showed her how she could also right click and pull up the apps list, or just type what she wanted. Again, she said, "for somebody used to how to use a computer, this isn't very intuitive".
Next, she managed to open one of those "New Windows UI" applications and after a bit she said. So, I opened something up, and now I cannot figure out how to close it. After about a minute, she said, "Ok, I got out of it". Once again, she utilized the "Charms Bar" to get the Start Button. She said, "Why did they hide the Start Button in that hidden menu?". I explained to her that she didn't close the app, but rather just left it and started something else...just like she would do on her phone. She couldn't figure out how to actually terminate it. I showed her how to grab the top of the Windows with the hand and drag to the bottom of the screen. She said, "how would anybody figure that out?.
Finally, I got her to launch 2 metro apps and I got her to get them both running at the same time. She spent a little time trying to figure out how to size them on the screen so they were both usable. She figured this out, she said, "so, one is always going to be small and one is going to be large, and that's just how it is?" Then she said, "what if I need more than 2 things". I said you would have to use the desktop and the desktop apps for that. She said a bit relieved, "ah, so that will work like it always has?"
She said, that it's not intuitive, but once she learned to use it, "I don't hate it". She said, but "wow...companies and such are going to have to spend some time training people on how to use this thing or else people will just be sitting at their computers and trying to figure out how to do anything. They will just be playing and won't be getting any work done".
I'm certainly hoping that when RTM gets installed, there is a quick Interactive How-To, that the OS will walk you through to teach you the very basics about "the new UI", the charms bar, "the new UI apps" and how to get back and forth to and from the desktop. That would resolve many a first users complaints on day 1.