Ok, taking another look at Win8, this time with the usability modifications afforded by Classic Shell and Start8.
..And I have to say, I like it. MS made a lot of improvements to the OS itself, with things like integrated backups and OS refresh. I can’t check out the multi-monitor improvements, as I’m running it in a VM and the virtualized video card doesn’t work well on my most machine, which means I must force basic video modes, and only single monitor. Not Win8’s fault there.
With Classic Shell/Start8 bypassing the Start Screen entirely, and giving a proper start menu, with normal program and control panel listings as well as listing “Metro” (was a non-disputed name ever decided upon?) apps, this is the desktop Win8 experience and functionality that we need, and what should be included in Win9 if MS has any ear to the community.
Classic Shell maintains a little more of the older WinXP stylings, while Start8 maintains the Windows 7 UI with the clean flat styling of 8.
The Start Screen isn’t gone entirely, you can still pull it up with a keyboard shortcut if you want quick access to the tiles, and then go back to desktop just as easily.
I need to do a bit of research on installing it to a Macbook Pro (driver support and all that) before I make the jump fully, but with enhancements like Classic Shell and Start8 the idea of upgrading has gone from “hell no”, to “ok, this could be pretty sweet”.
Classic Shell is free, Start8 (by Stardock) is $5.