'NOT YOUR FATHER'S OLDSMOBILE' JUST PISSED OFF ALL THE FATHERS WITH OLDSMOBILES: There are two (probably an infinite number, actually, but I'll round down to two) ways to look at Windows 8. One is that Microsoft, distracted by the shiny bauble that is the iPad money-printing machine, has moronically and belatedly decided that everything it makes is going to be either tablety or appy. The other is that Microsoft is internalizing the lessons of Blackberry and trying to make sure that when the generations to whom iPhones and iPads are native technology finally graduate to business tools, Windows-based computers will be both familiar and exciting to them.
Whichever you believe, Windows 8 is a pretty upsetting change for those of us who have a lifetime of accreted Windows knowledge and a firm dedication to the old separation of church and state: the iPad is mostly for fun; the laptop and desktop are mostly for business.
To me, Windows 8 is not just something with a learning curve. It is galling; it is presumptuous. It is as if Microsoft just said to me, "if you want to use this machine for business, I won't try my hardest to stop you, but what I think you really want is a larger, heavier tablet that will make it easier for me to sell your data to my business partners." The machines are pre-loaded with Netflix and are Facebook, Twitter, and cloud-storage-ready, but ugh, the thought of somebody using the DVD player to play a DVD -- how absurd is that? I'm not sure why a machine would come with a DVD player but no DVD video-reading capability (since thumb drives have rendered DVDs redundant in all areas other than video), but Microsoft literally will not sell you a DVD video decoder for a Windows 8 home-edition machine.
It really seems as if Microsoft paid no attention at all to the business user -- the person who, I think, is most likely to buy a laptop instead of or in addition to a tablet. Because people rarely shut down their tablets, Microsoft has forgotten to give you an intuitive way to shut down your Windows 8 laptop. I literally had to Google to figure it out. Because tablet users usually have in-app connections to their files and data, Windows has banished the Start menu and marginalized file-tree organization. The Metro/Modern UI is probably great if you buy a touch-screen, but if you opt for the track pad, get used to tearing your hair out trying to move around the UI while it opens programs seemingly at random just because you lingered on them too long as you scrolled the pointer across trying to reach the corner you have to swipe to open the cloyingly-titled "charms bar." No more task bar; instead, like on a tablet, you'll just have to guess how many programs you have sucking up memory at a time. And because tablets run on apps, Windows is trying to steer you away from reliance on a one-size-fits-all browser and toward the tablet-like proliferation of dedicated programs. No more using IE for Twitter, Facebook, and reading content; instead, you should download a dedicated Twitter, Facebook, HuffPo, ESPN, etc. Never mind that storing all of those programs and running their processes is going to slow the computer. If your Excel spreadsheet isn't working right, just close out of it to free up resources for the pre-loaded Plants vs. Zombies. You know you want to.