I managed to get a copy of Windows 8 the other day for $15 so I decided to give it a shot even though I'd probably not have upgraded for a while (if at all) because of all the negative press. Well, it wasn't solely the negative press. I'd read up a bit on the metro UI changes being introduced and was a bit hesitant on having to learn a new UI paradigm, but I'm glad to report my fears were overblown. After a few hours of casual usage, I've slowly come around to the new OS and have even come to appreciate some of the design decisions (while lamenting others).
I didn't have too much on my laptop that I couldn't get back with a cloud sync. I used the Windows 8 upgrade assistant program off the Microsoft website. It downloaded the Windows 8 image and then let me decide if I wanted to put it onto USB, or optical media, or just run right there. I put it onto USB in case I wanted to use it for the future and proceeded with the install. It went rather quickly on my Thinkpad T520 and was probably up and running in about 15-20 minutes. Then it finally booted up to the actual "Start" screen with the tiles.
I WER CONFUSED. Not gonna lie. This was a bit intimidating at first. I clicked on the IE tile and got a not found page because I hadn't connected it to the wireless network yet. Around this time, I figured out that the windows key on the keyboard brought up the start screen. So I tried out the desktop tile and it brought me to something that resembled the Windows 7 desktop minus the start menu. I started getting to work doing all the post-installation work like setting up the wireless, installing Chrome (although IE 10 wasn't bad from what I saw, but... IE... lulz), checking out the new changes to Windows Explorer, etc.
I'm still messing around with it and getting acclimated to the different application modes (metro vs desktop). Some of it feels awkward on the desktop and you can see where it wouldn't be so bad on mobile (eg. the Games app tile). One quick observation is that file utilities such as copy/delete seem to work insanely faster. I'll report back on what I find later.