Yes, nathanm, there are certainly negatives. Believe it or not, I have read Jakob Nielsen's criticisms as well as those of others. For better or worse, the world is turning into a place where 16:9 screens are the norm, whether on a movie screen, my cell phone, iPad or the TV in my living room and companies like Microsoft are trying to figure out how to develop a consistent UI for all their products.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not. If I were in charge, there would be a whole lot of changes. But for some reason, Steve Baller keeps forgetting to call me.
But at least Microsoft almost always supports legacy applications, which is something I appreciate. Yes, I still have a desktop with Office 2000 on it. While I don't know for sure, I suspect Word 2000 could be made to run on Win 8, with some effort. I know I can run Juice (aka iPodder), my favorite podcast aggregator in Win8, and that has not been updated since 2006. In storage, I have an Apple II+, and much of the software I ran on that could not even run on an Apple IIc.
Enough of history. Today, Win8 allows me to switch between Desktop mode and Metro mode, as I do frequently, depending on what I am trying to do. When working in Word or Excel, as I do several times a day, I am in Desktop mode, with a traditional keyboard and trackball. For a quick look at my email, I am in Metro mode, where I can tap a few icons on the touchscreen, preview my mail, and select what I want to look at. You are right, just like on the iPad, Metro apps do not close, they just stay in the background. Metro is a tablet-oriented interface, while Desktop is a traditional productivity-application interface. Both have their place.
If you want to stay in the Windows world, and you are not a business, then what you will find pre-installed on virtually all consumer laptops is Win8. If you are dead set on not using the Metro interface under any circumstances, spend $5 and get Start8 and you will have 99% of the appearance and functionality of Win7.
Oh, and as for the ads, you know what, both my iPad and my Android phone have lots free apps with ads in them. If you want an ad-free experience, you need to chip in a few dollars to the developer. If you want people to develop apps for your products, you need to find a way to compensate them for the effort. As much as I love the Chumby, one major downside has been that there was never a way to attract sufficient interest from developers because apps generated no money for the developer. So unlike iPad apps, which have frequent updates, Chumby apps were rarely updated.
In the end, bobsz's question seemed to be could he live with Win8. My answer is yes.