I like being an early adopter, so naturally at work, I got to be the Windows 8 guinea pig. My Build tablet had every update of Windows 8 pre-release, my laptop started with the release preview, and I was the first (and only) person to upgrade from 7.
Now, I have a new job with a much bigger company and I don't get the luxury of choosing my main setup, so I'm back on Windows 7.
My thoughts so far:
Windows 7 feels bulky. It's the same feeling I got going from XP to Vista, Aero glass just feels thicker.
It is a relief to have the recent programs list back in the Start menu. In all the defense Microsoft gave for the Start menu makeover, most of it making sense, they never explained their decision to remove this list or to not bring a suitable replacement. It was useful, and it is missed.
It is much easier to find a program in the Programs submenu of the Start menu than it is to find it in the All Apps list in Windows 8. Sometimes in Windows 8, Microsoft failed miserably to follow their own Metro design language guidelines, particularly in the use of fonts to guide users' eyes and to delineate. And for that matter, I don't find myself missing the tiles, because I rarely used them since they could only open Metro apps (which have come nowhere close to the usefulness of desktop apps... yet...).
Meanwhile, at the same time, I got a Macbook Pro for my personal laptop and it is amazing how Apple has improved (my wife still uses our old 2006 era Macbook which I haven't used in over a year). The whole ecosystem feels like it's trying to find new ways to help you organize your work and life. I don't get this from Microsoft; they can't shed the old, and the new doesn't hit the mark.
Don't get me wrong. I was a huge proponent of the direction Microsoft was taking Windows 8. I still have hope that they will eventually get it where it needs to be. I mostly don't mind the simplistic UI, or the replacement of the Start menu with the Start screen. I find myself using the keyboard to open apps, and I'm working more efficiently as a result. But Microsoft really needs to play to their strengths and make business users and leaders salivate at productivity gains and useful collaborative techniques that aren't only enabled, but created by the Microsoft brand. Blue, frankly, doesn't cut it so far, and I'm afraid that we're going to be left longing again for the real Windows 9.