Living with Windows 8
I have been using Windows 8 on my new Gateway 17.3" Laptop and find the transition from XP/W7 very easy... and still transitioning. I estimate I have no more than 8 hours of use time on the W8 machine (in addition to start up and creation of 16 GByte Restore USB Drive).
Windows 8 boots in less than half the time it took Windows 7, which was/is much faster than XP. Love the fast boot, the screen and password facility is ready in a few seconds, not more than 15 seconds (I think it varies a bit - may depend on the shut down), and off, less than 5 seconds...all estimates, I have not used a stop watch.
I am operating basically as a Window 7 OS, once booted and password entered I click on the lower left hand tile for "desk top" - now in the W7 world.
As I use the big W8 laptop as my movable "desk top" I find it nice to use the touch pad most of the time - when in for just a few minutes. This took some getting used to as the W8 touch pad provides a number of features that can be hard to adjust to. My hands drag across the pad when typing and I found frequent transfers of the screen troubling. But, W8 provides a via the Control Panel Mouse dialoge the user the ability to reduce the touch pad to a dumb cursor mover with left and right keys below. It also provides the option for the automatic disabling of the touch pad if a plug in mouse is detected - this is great, I don't have to remember to disable and I do use a wireless mouse... for now, I'm liking the touch pad more and more.
I have kept the scroll feature of the touch pad enabled, replaces the wheel on the wheel mouse, which I have used for years. With W8 one simply "pushes" the screen up or down by dragging two fingers up or down on the pad. I disabled the expand/contract which can be done by dong a pinch/expand on the touch pad. I use the expand often when in a browser, but less now that I have a 17.3" screen. Still I found that feature too sensitive for me and caused unwanted screen actions when typing. I can always turn it back on. I also adjusted/reduced the sensitivity of the touch pad and like it much better now. I like to drag the cursor around the screen, not bump it. I had to bump with the default setting, I can now drag the cursor around - and bump it is it sticks..not often so far.
My primary use for this machine is browsing and doing some (most) email - so far I am just using the on-line ISP email client as I don't want to split email keepers between this machine and the W7 machine which has history/files... yes I can transfer the user stuff but haven't done so yet.
Of course, there is much more to W8 than a expanded touch pad capability in a W7 environment...but that is a nice way to start operation in W8 and just learn as the need/interest/time allows.
I recommend anyone in the market for a new computer do not look for a W7 leftover unless it is a lot less money, which I doubt as W7 leftovers are in demand. That was my target until I decided I didn't want to have less hardware selection to keep an old OS. Go ahead and buy Windows 8, and learn as you go - of course if you are operating a desk top or using your laptop with a remote keyboard, mouse, and screen most of what I post here isn't an issue - the touch pad is protected from unwanted action due to accidental touches and taps.