I've used Win8 not only without touch, but in a remote session as well, and have lost no productivity in doing so. I get that you have a preference, and you're not wrong in your preference, but claims about it being unusable and so it will never be adopted are simply wrong. It might not get adopted, and it might be because of the UI changes, but it won't be because it's not usable/productive.
I actually like what they've done, it's just that it's what I would call "going a bit too far" by not letting mouse users fall back to a Win7 mode. Mice are still better for many things so scattering things around the outside makes perfect sense for a tablet where your hands are holding the device along the edge of the screen but it's not efficient for mouse users with a very accurate little pointer, at least 2 buttons and a scrollwheel. Whenever I move a mouse pointer into a corner and things swish out I know it was designed for fat fingers on a small portable device and it just feels wrong (swiping motions especially feel wrong). I'm glad some people can use it just fine but I have a feeling a majority of people feel it's a step backwards and a bit too scattered everywhere for us mouse and especially trackpad users.
I never use my start menu other than to get to the control panel and maybe once in a while hit restart or shut down but the Start8 menu still looks nice to me. Being able to start up directly to the desktop is a very nice feature. I wonder if it turns off the Charms Bar and the menu that pops out of the top left while you're in Desktop mode? I only want that when I'm in fullscreen Modern UI mode.