Windows 8 is very much like Windows 7 with addition of a graphical start menu and the incorporation of "apps." I don't use the apps at all. I don't like putting my stuff in the cloud. I prefer it to be on my NAS and my hard drive. Some of the apps are terrible. The music app, as an example, has no way to stop the music. It will play until it is finished regardless of what you do. So I use the good old old Windows Media Player instead. I use most of my existing programs - Thunder bird, for example so I feel pretty much at home on 8. I actually downloaded a Windows 7 like start button to use from the desktop. I found Win 7 to be a noticeable improvement over Vista and I view Win 8 as pretty similar to Win 7 so I would recommend the upgrade.
I'm with PIKU on this one Cathy, go for it gal and dump the bloatware that Vista is, overboard. W8 might take a bit of getting used to, especially the Metro ( or whatever they've decided to call it now ) interface but I think it will be worth it in the long run and for the price it's available for at the moment, it's a no-brainer. If you're worried about making such a drastic change then you can always dualboot so you can return to the familiarity of Vista if necessary but I don't think it will be long before you decide to delete it.