I've mentioned in the forums that I got myself a new Windows 8 laptop, so I suppose it's time for me to post my observtions.
First of all - the hardware, so you have some basis for comparison. This is the latest iteration of the Acer Aspire One series of netbooks. This one is known as the AO725. It actually has an 11.2" screen (which used to be considered somewhat large for the "netbook" class) with a resolution of 1366x768
- the exact same resolution as my 15.4" laptop! As typical for a netbook, it has no optical drive. It does include 3 USB ports, ethernet, VGA-style video out as well as HDMI, a card reader (only one, my previous netbook had 2), webcam (user-facing - this isn't a tablet), wi-fi, etc. The CPU is actually an AMD C-70 at 1 GHz (supposedly with turbo so it can actually boost itself to 1.333 GHz if needed) and ATI Radeon 7920 graphics ... and yes, Windows 8 (64-bit). I suppose this is more like what they call an "ultrabook" - while it has a larger screen it is acually thinner and lighter than my previous netbook. Oh, and it's red (sorry, that's the only color they had in the store).
I should also mention ... I hate trackpads (also called touchpads). It's too easy for me to accidentally click something when I'm just trying to move the pointer, a few times I've also ended up dragging (a quick tap followed by a move results in a drag) or double-tapping. And yes, of course, scrolling (by sliding my finger along the right edge) when I'm trying to move. And of course, they don't emulate a middle button. My bigger laptop quickly got a Logitech m580 trackball, and I'll probably do that here to - or maybe just share the trackball between the two.
Okay, on to the "meat" of this post. You may already know this - Windows 8 has no Start menu. Instead it has a Start screen which is covered with "live tiles". Okay, the weather tile, calendar, etc. could be useful to me - though as with a wi-fi tablet if you take this away from your network that'll be moot. Weather can't update when there is no network. Additionally, there is no "All applications" - if you need to use Notepad, you'll have to find it in the file manager.
Standard features - dragging in from the left edge, or going to the top left corner of the screen, will allow you to switch to the most recently used program. (Like Alt-Tab in previous versions of Windows, except that it only shows the last program. Yes, Alt-Tab still exists also.) One problem I had though ... when they say "left edge", I figured they meant of the desktop. I was wrong - no matter where the pointer is on the screen, dragging in from the left edge of the trackpad has this behavior. That might not be so bad if the screen wasn't so large, but if I'm trying to move the mouse over to the right side of the screen I'm going to have to drag all the way across the trackpad more than once. Fortunately you can turn off this version of application-switching - it is frustrating to have your desktop disappear out from under you because you actually switched to a different app.
Oh yes, the desktop is an app too, even though all your desktop software will automatically switch to the desktop when started from the Start page. If you're used to ... well, any standard desktop, this isn't really it. There are some window managers on Linux which may come close, but if you like OSX, Windows (pre-8) or the big-name Linux desktops, you will find parts of it jarring.
Speaking of jarring ... at either right corner of the screen, or any time you drag from the right edge (of the trackpad) is the "charms" panel. This has 5 items on it: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. Start is a shortcut to the Start page (sort of redundant, as Start is also at the bottom-left corner). On this system, not much to play with under Devices - a listing for "Second screen" if I had a second monitor attached, that's about it. Maybe in the right context it would be aware of cameras and printers, currently useless. Search and Settings shouldn't need explanation ...
What does need explanation is the fatal flaw here. (Okay, maybe "fatal" is overly dramatic ...) When I do drag from the right edge of the trackpad, this Charms panel actually gets focus. Hitting the corners of the screen only shows you the charms as an overlay, you can ignore them and they disappear once you pull the pointer out of the corner. Not so with dragging in from the right edge of the trackpad - if you do that, you're actually going to have to click somewhere to get rid of the panel. Which means if you were trying to click something anyway (a link or button in Opera), you now suddenly have to click twice - once to focus Opera (and dismiss the panel) and once to actually click the button/link.
Okay, maybe inveterate laptop users can get used to this stuff. I really can't - which is why my Windows 7 laptop has a trackball.
Okay, I see now that it's a setting in the touchpad, you can turn off "swipes" there if you wish to (and obviously I do), so now that's gone.
Other stuff ... okay, the Microsoft version of an "App Store" seems incredibly slow. I decided I wanted to add a simple Spider game (which doesn't seem to be included) and it took forever to download. It also tells you less - no download progress, fewer details about what you're getting, and it is harder to find what you want. Google Play has all those nice categories: rather than only seeing the top 100 free games, you could actually look at the top 100 free card games. Okay, I'm sure both allow you to search, but Microsoft's store has a long way to go.
And of course, all the "crapware", though you can probably blame most of that on the vendor (in my case, Acer) rather than Microsoft. I have no use for probably 80% of the tiles on my Start page. Weather, calendar, desktop - that's fine. "People"? Chat? Animated news headlines? If I wanted any of those, I'd visit some corresponding website. Other than MyOpera, I don't do "social" - no Facebook, no Twitter, no MySpace, no fantasy sports. And I especially don't need to see pictures of the latest Mideast violence on some news slideshow - words would be fine, thank you.
Of course, eventually I'll set this thing up to dual-boot Linux. Not as easy as it used to be, no default option during POST that says "Press F12 for Boot Menu" ... but I do see it listed over there under Settings.
But overall ... well, it looks like it was designed for a tablet (which it was of course), not for a desktop/laptop. Too many actions seem to be position-sensitive, non-desktop apps take up too much of the screen (and it is a very big screen after all). Desktop windows have been simplified - the nice Aero toolbars and borders are goone, the default theme looks like something that that would run on hardware intended for 98 SE. Worth it? Well, considering it was only a $200 netbook (which is less than a Windows "upgrade" - and given my employee discount I only paid $160 at that) ... yeah, okay. If all else fails, I can still dump Windows 8 and boot Linux. The hardware is all standard devices, it'll run that just fine.