I’m writing this on Windows 8 right now. It both installs and runs surprisingly well inside of a virtual machine. Actually, it shouldn’t be that surprising; in this day and age most people would rather cautiously install it on a Virtual Box or VMWare instance rather than set up a physical machine to run it. Clearly, someone at Microsoft is aware of this. The developer preview worked flawlessly out of the box on Virtual Box. Hell, I wish Windows 7 installed as smoothly as Win8 preview did.
So far, I am cautiously optimistic about Win8. I can see purchasing Win8 for my mother. She’s more of a “big, squishy buttons” kind of person, and “the desktop” is about as complex of a concept that she wants to deal with during casual computer use. Poking around with it for about 30 minutes, the “Metro” interface seems awkwardly tacked on – you click “control panel” and it gives you a very Metro looking control panel option, but if you click “advanced options” twice, it begrudgingly kicks you back to the desktop and you get the traditional Win7 control panel.
Chrome installed cleanly, as did Steam. In fact, when I installed Steam on Win8, windows asked me which browser I wanted to use to open web pages in a friendly dialog box. I have a Steam chat bot that I use to run various Battlefield admin commands, written in C#. Windows automatically downloaded and installed the correct .net 3.5 package, and while ChewieBot was designed to run on XP, he runs flawlessly on Win8 as well. So of my need cases, Win8 is 3 for 3.
In fact, the only problem I’ve come across (and this is subjective) is the terribad ribbon interface that’s been included on the Explorer file manager. Granted, the ribbon interface is probably ideal for ham-fisted touchscreen users, but it would be nice for so called power users to still have regular drop down menus when you need to use a mouse.