Well, the Coffeehouse is hardly representative of the public as a whole, hell this forum is relatively dead compared to most other Win tech forums I populate.
From my experience, the press and public in general thought Win7 was quite attractive. One of the reasons is that its design was the most cohesive of any Windows OS to date, which has always been a negative with Windows (and with one fell swoop, Win8 undoes all that work). Yes, the transparency was over the top at times, in fact one aspect of it I critiqued heavily was that it dispensed with making the taskbar/titlebar opaque when maximized, which made sense in Vista (and MS's explanation for it made sense) and I didn't understand why it was removed in Win7 - not even an option.
However, if you hated the transparency, you could turn it off with a checkbox. Can't do the opposite in Win8, the ability to customize the desktop appearance has been neutered even further.
BTW, If you don't like the automatic colour changes in the UI chrome when your desktop background changes, turn it off by setting a specific colour. You have all the same flexibility as Windows 7 here, with the exception of the translucent glass effect of Vista and 7. You didn't have that effect in Windows XP so you should be able to live without it in Windows 8.
I'm aware of that - and comparing the flexibility of the desktop to one in an OS over 10 years old is not exactly a glowing point in Win8's favour.