Yesterday marks one week of using Windows 8 for me. I figured I'd give some of my views. This ended up being kind of long, sorry for that.
That was pretty good. All my devices worked pretty much with built-in drivers, I only installed newer video/audio drivers because I always do; they weren't needed to get functionality. Strangely, on Windows 7 I'd gotten a new version of IntelliType/Point with Metro UI, but Windows Update furnished me with the old version on 8.
The little movie showing to use the corners is nice, though since I always set up an Admin and a limited user, I got to see it twice within minutes, which is somewhat pointless.
For various interoperability reasons, it's very important that my user name is the same on all my machines, including several Linux clusters at work. When creating an account with a Microsoft Account, you get a user name that's a mangled version of the e-mail address, which is not good. This was solved by creating a local account with the desired name, and then converting it to a Microsoft Account. I'm kind of used to having to jump through hoops here, though, since even in Win7 I had to apply some tricks to get an account with a different display name than user name.
It's nice that all my settings (that I'd previously configured with the CP in a VM) were immediately there when I connected my Microsoft Account.
My network settings were extremely insecure by default (private network with home group even though I'm directly connected to the Internet with a public IP address). The way to change this to a more secure setting was removed from the network center and is extremely difficult to find now.
This is the big improvement. Windows startup is crazy fast, thanks to the partial hibernation thing. Windows 7 was never this fast, even on a clean install. It's literally about 15 seconds from the end of the BIOS POST to a functioning start screen. After boot, the system feels very responsive, all the animations are incredibly smooth. On my laptop, the animations are still equally smooth when running in "power saver" mode using the Intel graphics adapter. App startup is good, the whole OS just feels very snappy (not that 7 was slow on this PC, by no means, but the difference is still noticeable).
No complaints yet. Big things like Office and Visual Studio are fine, but even esoteric things like running an SSH server with Cygwin are all working fine. Mass Effect 3 runs perfectly too, and I can record gameplay with Fraps.
A bit of a weak point, admittedly. My reliability graph looks terrible after one week, but it's mostly due to the fact that my system died, and some problem with video codec configuration (caused by a codec pack, not Win8) caused endless DllHost crashes.
Internet Explorer crashes frequently, but this appears to be a driver problem (and may or may not be Flash related as well, not sure yet). It always recovers the tabs, so that's working as intended.
Some metro apps are also a bit flaky, including the store itself.
Metro and the start screen
The best I can say about this is that it doesn't get in the way as much as I feared. The start screen itself is quite nice, though I still don't know why it has to be full screen. The live tiles are nice, though since I use Outlook I don't get the benefit of the Mail and Calendar tiles. Hopefully Outlook 2013 will get some form of tile to fix this.
I spend most of my time on the desktop, but those times when I need the start screen the transition isn't as jarring as it was in earlier builds because of how smooth the whole thing is now. I still hate that it's not self-organizing (no MRU list, tons of crap after every install that I need to remove), and I'm slowly getting used to using a pinned Explorer instance to replace the right-hand side of the old start menu.
There's still too much of a zigzag motion needed to access some things with the mouse.
The rationale for what settings are in the metro Settings app and what's in the old Control Panel completely eludes me. This could've been done better.
The right-click menu is neat, only complaint is there's no easy way to open an elevated instance of computer management if you're running as a limited user.
The only Metro apps I've really used are RDP and the weather app. I really like the RDP app, I run RDP full screen usually anyway to that works for me. Weather at least looks nice and does what it needs to. It's also nice that there's a PDF reader built-in, although I switched to Adobe Reader because I don't see any reason to read PDFs full screen. The photos app is nice and I like that it can access Facebook and SkyDrive, but I still prefer Photo Gallery. I disabled the Messaging app in favour of Messenger because again, I don't see a reason to have a full screen chat window.
It's nice that the People app shows recent status updates from Facebook on the Live Tile, but since it scrolls through them and doesn't give you notifications (or even a number of new notifications on the tile like the Facebook app for iPhone does), it's useless for quickly checking if there's something new.
OneNote MX looks very cool, would definitely use it on a tablet, but there's no use-case on a desktop since I also have the full desktop OneNote which again doesn't need to be full screen.
Kindle app looks neat too, but I have a Kindle so its uses are limited.
Very few other useful apps in the store for my region right now. We'll have to see how this develops.
Lack of start button is weird. I thought the new window chrome was seriously ugly when I first saw it, but it doesn't bother me much during actual use. Still prefer glass though.
Hot-corners occasionally get in the way when trying to hit something else that's near a corner. I do appreciate that hot-corners "capture" the mouse in a multi-monitor situation, and work on every monitor.
I appreciate that the taskbar can now be shown on all monitors, though I personally don't use this. But it's nice that it's there.
Love the new task manager and most of the changes to Explorer (particularly the file copy UI). I don't like that the details pane was changed to vertical, though, I preferred the horizontal one from Vista/7.
Built-in ISO mounting! Thank you, long overdue.
Language settings are cleaned up, and actually work right now (this was a horrible broken mess in the CP). I still need to override the default because just letting it use the order of the list is unreliable. Regional settings specified during setup don't seem to take if your language settings are different (it reverts back to determining it by system language).
New method of switching language with Winkey-space is nice, but it's hard to break the old shift-alt habit, which still works fortunately.
The Japanese IME is awesome. It works like a phone IME now, with autocompletion of commonly used phrases and words. 大好き！
Integrated spell check is very nice, though sometimes it's difficult to convince it of what language you're typing in. Also, why doesn't WordPad have the ability to use this spell check?
Overall the various little things do add up to quite a nice OS. It's very fast, extremely smooth, and most initial hick-ups are more from unfamiliarity than anything else.
I'm still not a huge fan of the start screen, but it's not as bad as I thought it'd be. Once you get past the initial period of having to organize and clean up after installers, it's okay. Maybe if we get some useful metro apps and live tiles in due time, I could learn to like it. It does at least look neat.
Would I recommend it to others? No. Unless the metro apps story really takes off, there's not enough here to justify upgrading for a user that's satisfied with Windows 7. Not even if it's just $40. If a user wants to upgrade because he/she is interested and doesn't mind getting used to some of the new stuff, then I will give them my blessing, as I have no reason to give a negative recommendation either. But if the question is "I'm happy with Windows 7, do I really need 8?" then the answer is quite simply no.
Reasons to upgrade for me would include: personal interest or a user who wants to be on the bleeding edge (that'd be me), interest in developing metro apps (would be me if it weren't for lack of time), or if you also have a Windows 8 tablet or (presumably) Windows Phone 8 getting the similar UIs on all of them could be a compelling reason to upgrade.
Beyond that, I guess it's up to us to get that killer Metro App out there so people really have a reason to upgrade.