Windows 8 is released. I have been running it in a virtual machine as my main development for 2 months now, ever since it RTM-ed. And yesterday I installed it on my old laptop too.
I have to say I found it easy to get to grips with the new UI (on an unrelated note; I have recently bought a MacBook for the first time and found the learning curve on OS X and Windows 8 to be about the same) and I certainly disagree with those who claim productivity will suffer. If you use a mouse you will need to learn a few keyboard shortcuts as well as get into a habit of pinning frequently used desktop apps to Taskbar and it won’t slow you down at all.
Personally I don’t find myself switching between Metro (oops, Windows Store) apps and desktop applications very often. If I need to do some proper work I stick mainly to Desktop environment and if I am doing something light I can easily do all things in Desktop. The one exception is when I am debugging my Metro apps.
To take it further, I think you can learn to use Windows 8 very quickly as long as you keep an open mind. I am about to give my old laptop to my mum soon, which is why I installed Windows 8 on it. I think she won’t have any issues learning how to use it and Windows 8 is going to be perfect for her as she only needs her computer to browse the internet, read email and play puzzle games and that is where Metro UI excels.
The strategy Microsoft has taken is a brave one, going all touch is a big change, their direction is clearly to converge towards one OS for all devices. As a geek I am excited about the possibility that one day all my devices will be running one OS, my smartphone, tablet and laptop, well a VM on laptop since I am firmly in MacBook camp now – part of the perception people have about Windows being clunky is certainly down to Microsoft’s hardware partners, my old laptop looks ridiculous next to my MacBook and the build quality… let’s not go there. Anyway I digress a bit, the point is that one day us developers could be able to target three different device types with a single app and that is something to be excited about.