@Buck Futter, Tannin, et al:
Many people seem to have a problem with Windows 8.x, but I've actually found it's easier to get newbies into it than it was with previous versions. Rather than presenting you with a pretty picture and some cryptic icons, it actually starts with an application launcher that shows a bunch of very clear tiles, each of which tells you what it does and even gives you some basic information before you've even clicked on it.
As for myself: according to every WIMP GUI rulebook, the GUI is there for *newbies*. Nobody else. Intermediate and advanced users are supposed to learn the bloody keyboard shortcuts!
If, like me, you had done just that, Windows 8.x would pose no difficulties whatsoever. Want to close an application – or even bring up the shutdown dialog box? ALT+F4. Each new release has added new shortcuts, but many of the existing ones have been there since Windows for Workgroups!
The problem is that nobody's teaching this any more. When so-called "professionals" proclaim themselves grizzled veterans with umpteen years of expertise in a platform, yet admit to being bamboozled by changes to what is, when you get down to it, a glorified app launcher, you have to wonder what they're teaching kids at university these days.
Such people are, at best, amateurs, not professionals. Their blatant ignorance of basic GUI usage rules is proof enough of that. If you're still relying heavily on a mouse or trackpad to get your quotidian work done, and you're not an artist or architect, you're doing it wrong. By definition. There are actual textbooks explaining all this.
That tiled GUI really is piss-easy for neophytes to understand. It's easy to forget that we had to *learn* to navigate the (original hierarchical) menus and drill down to our application – never mind having to remember *which* application we needed to open! Now, my aunt need only look for the "Mail" tile, see that there's a message or three waiting for her, and click on it. It's all there right in front of her. And this is a Good Thing™ as it means she needs to rely rather less heavily on her failing memory.
iOS and Android – hardly surprising given the former's influence on the latter – led the way, but Windows' ModernUI picked up the widgets idea and ran with it, making it the central feature, but Trevor Potts' point about separating this from the old Windows GUI is a valid one: Windows 8.x is very much a transitional release, and it's likely Windows 9.x will be too, given the glacial pace of upgrading in the corporate field.
iOS was the first mainstream GUI to break with the old WIMP formula, so the keyboard shortcuts point doesn't apply to that. (Or to Android.) Microsoft also needs to make that transition, but whether beating Windows into submission with the multi-touch GUI stick over a number of transitional releases is the best way to achieve that is a question only the market can answer. In fairness, Windows 8.x is a pretty good choice for people, like myself, who have to do a lot of typing. Some of the hybrid Windows 8 "tabtop" devices out there are a perfect fit for my needs.
Wacom's Companion Pro (essentially a Wacom digitiser and stylus nailed onto a tablet very similar to the Surface Pro 2) is looking very attractive to me right now. It's flashing its ports seductively at me as I type this. Cease, you Jezebel! You tablet of the night!
Nurse! The screens!