As far as I am concerned, Windows 8 is a mixture of a blessing and a curse as an operating system. It is a blessing mainly in that it starts and shuts down much faster than its predecessor. But it is a curse in that its new UI is less easy to work with, especially when I do not use my computer as a tablet, i.e., most of the time when I use my computer. Using Windows 8 with this new UI without taming it significantly decreases one's productivity. Actually, the new UI consists of two parts: 1) the legacy desktop UI, 2) the so-called Modern UI. And each of them has its own curse. But fortunately, there is a solution to each of them.
The curse in the legacy desktop UI is the disappearance of the "Start" button. This is probably the worst change ever made in Windows as an operating system, and it is no wonder that many people complain about it. Fortunately, there are a number of free and commercial programs that restore this button. My favorite is Start8. Although it is a commercial program, its price is ridiculously low, and it is definitely worth its price. I cannot imagine using Windows 8 without it, and I wonder how those who do not use this or a similar program manage. I would even say that this is probably the single most important program I use on Windows 8.
Modern UI is a very esthetic UI, but it is not free from its own curse. The biggest complaint I have about it is that applications running in this UI are maximized, so one cannot switch between multiple open applications easily, nor can one use them with desktop programs running in the desktop UI. ModernMix solves these inconveniences.
Once these UI-related curses are lifted with these two tiny but powerful tools, Windows 8 becomes a usable operating system. Actually, I consider it the best version of Windows. I still do not understand why Microsoft made such user-unfriendly decisions in designing the two UIs of Windows 8. I am just sorry for a large percentage of Windows 8 users who are forced to cope with these curses without knowing that the curses can be easily broken at a minimal cost.