There's still hope though... Once it becomes clear that very few people really want or care for the Metro UI on a desktop computer, MS can release a patch that restores previous desktop functionality. That includes restoring the Start menu as well as unfuglyfying the desktop UI again. Technically this shouldn't be too difficult and should not break any compatibility. The Metro UI can still be an option, just not shoved down our throats.

I'd be very surprised if they did this.  It would be basically admitting the entire design ethos of Win8 was a failure; which while I think is true to some extent, I don't think MS is ready to admit that unless the numbers coming out into late '13 are a disaster.  Maybe the desktop will get some tweaking, sure - but I think the majority of work, at least in "blue", will be about unifying Metro and the Desktop environments to some extent.  They'll still want you to use Metro as much as possible.

Agreed on the desktop.  Damn this is the ugliest desktop MS has put out in some time, relative to modern design I think it's worse than the garish Luna (but that could at least be easily mitigated with a new Style XP skin or when Royale came out).  It's just so...lazy.  Just flattening some elements while leaving Win7's faux-3d icons everywhere, getting rid of the transparency (which really hurts when you have rotating wallpapers and your border colours to match - hope you like your windows suddenly become brown and hot pink when a new pic appears!), and that's about it.  So much more they could have done to make it look professional if they were so dead-set on Aero suddenly being considered passe'.

The desktop can't be retired, but it does need to be updated.  I don't want Win9 (won't expect this for Blue) to just return the Win7 desktop, there are a host of improvements that can be made.  I'm not dead-set against the Metro aesthetic, I think the Zune software is wonderful (speaking of more idiotic decisions - now it's dead with Win8 phones and the replacement sync tool has 10% of the functionality, why, why MS?!), and I can see how that design could translate to the desktop quite well.  Office 2013 is a decent start (albeit too monochrome), the engine powering it is great - smooth and fast with excellent use of the GPU.  That's actually what I expected for the Win8 desktop.