Re: As if this will make people happy!
Let's deal with this step by step: Apologies for the length, but I'd rather tackle everything...
Example, the endless mantra that Windows 8 penalized mouse and keyboard users. Windows 8 was better for mouse and keyboard users. Any serious user should have already been in the habit of launching programs by tapping the Windows key (which is permanently a centimetre away from your left hand when using the keyboard) and typing the first few letters of what you want. Want Control Panel? Win-key + 'con'. I can literally launch it in under a second. And this search-launch function works faster in Windows 8 than in 7. Additionally, it includes documents and settings in the search. And people claim that it's all designed around Touch? What I've just described is faster than reaching for a display.
Windows 8, and in particular the Microsoft applications that come with it further devalue the keyboard and the mouse. Many keyboard shortcuts have silently removed. Only minor ones such as Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V. These no longer work and a user is forced to right click to copy, cut or paste text - admittedly this does favour the mouse but it requires a user to change hands and switch concentration to a different input device.
The mouse pointer is not a substitute for a touch interface, it is not possible to "fling" elements around in the same was as one can with a touch. The mouse scroll button does not scroll the UI elements that can only be scrolled by touch, using a largely hidden scroll bar that's too small or repeatedly clicking forward / back buttons (which are sometimes hidden until you guess the exact spot on screen).
A "normal" user does not operate a computer like a keyboard obsessed geek. A "normal" user tends to use a computer as a tool to perform the limited array of tasks they require. They don't give a monkey's what the name of the application they are looking for actually is (it is likely to also deal with their spelling mistakes), however they have learnt that the green "X" signifies Excel (or spreadsheets), the blue "W" signifies Word (or writing in some form) and the orange "O" signifies Outlook, but they'd prefer it was "E" for email. They also recognise "E" as "Internet", (another great mismatch). These normal users look for the visual clues that a visual user interface should be giving them - things like clear indications of their commonly used applications, what is a button and what is not and how to close an application or just shut down the computer.
And if for some reason you're too conditioned by older versions of Windows to adapt to using the keyboard and insist on launching something with the mouse.
The mouse was introduced to ease navigation in a graphical environment for average users. Yet you are already demonstrating crass stupidity in assuming that all users want to use the keyboard (searching for the letter to press each time) and would prefer this instead to clear functions being presented visually for them to choose from. Much like real life interactions - you look at a display of fruit on a stall and select from what is available, you'd be ****ed off if the display of fruit was hidden and you'd have to type on an unrelated the name of the fruit that you'd like without knowing what is available or sometimes even what the name might actually be. It's not a great example, but applicable enough as icon imagery is there to show a user what functions or options are available and the mouse is there to make it easier for the visual link between what you want and how to get it.
Well for those people who really struggle to adapt, mouse approach is also faster than in 7. In both cases [snip]more ranting about keyboard[/snip], you have to move the mouse to the lower left. This too is easier in Windows 8 because in Windows 7 you have to move it only so far and stop on the Start menu, so you must control your mouse movement. In 8 you just whip it to the lower left corner where it will stop by itself. Controlled movement is slower than uncontrolled movement and don't try to say that the extra few pixels travel offsets that because any honest person can try it right now (go ahead - see how fast you can move the mouse to the lower left corner compared to how fast you can move it to a small rectangle near but not at the lower left corner. And don't respond to this point until you've tried it).
So you are recommending that a user, as in a normal person, should somehow magically know that there is a hidden function in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, clicking on which will solve all of their problems? You are quite correct about the difference between constrained and unconstrained movement, but before attacking others and suggesting that they try it, you do realise that Windows 7 works exactly the same way? Yes, you can fling the mouse into the bottom left hand corner of the screen and click on the clear visual indicator. On the "constraint" of options being a very useful tool - a set of visual function indicators gives a neat, constrained list of options and is much better than a keyboard free type search of "everything". I actually like the ability to search everything with ease, but this should be seen as a useful tool and extension, not a crutch for a unusable user interface.
I regularly use a lot of different programs - far more than most. I counted them and the come to 27. My Start Screen has space for around fifty on the desktop machine, and around thirty-five on my old laptop. You know what that means? No navigating up and down menus carefully like the Start Menu. Which could pin a finite amount of things - I can't remember how many but it was less than the Start Screen on even my laptop. Again, it's faster and easier to whip the mouse to a large icon in the screen (and they're grouped by function too!) than it is to go to a menu option in the Start Menu, wait for the sub-menu to appear, move to the option you want, etc.
You have very succinctly proven you exact problem. You class yourself as a "power user". Guess what? 99.999% of Windows are not power users. They don't run 27 different applications, they don't care about such things. For most users a PC is a glorified typewriter that has the advantage that it comes with Internet and Email access.
But no, people clapped their hands over their ears and shouted "a UI designed for touch on a non-touch interface is stupid!" Never mind the facts, they'd found something to be angry about.
A UI designed on a non-touch interface is not stupid... it's mind bogglingly fuckwit stupid. I first developed touch interfaces over ten years ago and I can assure you, it is not extremely difficult to produce a combined interface that works well with both. It does introduce a lot of restrictions and in the end you either have a restricted interface (touch) or a much less restricted interface (mouse / keyboard). The chief difficulties are that a mouse is much more accurate as the hit point is more precise and a user does not have their hand / finger in the way and a mouse has two or three standard buttons allowing consistent selection / menu actions. Not that right click menus are exactly great from the UX point of view, however they are an established standard and are a good tool for providing additional control at the point of use compared to a user having to find the same control elsewhere in menus / buttons further away from the focus of interest. The point about them not being great for users is very pertinent when you realise than a great many users just don't know that right click menus exist...
The list of stupid objections was endless. The Start Screen would obscure what was on the page. Right - so you navigate the Start Menu without looking at it do you and without stopping from reading what you're reading in the main window? Of course you do...
I'll give you this point, but only on the very narrow aspect of looking at a modal interface (popup window) that either covers the screen or just prevents you from using the rest of the screen without disappearing. The poor thing about the new start screen is that it is a) ugly as sin (subjective of course, and it does depend on the content), b) is a poor way to locate what you want as it's invariably full of junk, which lead onto c) removes all of the useful features that have been built up in previous incarnations of windows. Such as Most Recently Used documents and applications, pinned items, sorted items, indicators for new items and so on. It's not that the old start menu was great, it's that the new one is a functional step backwards.
Or how about that opening a PDF would, by default, launch the Metro PDF reader causing the poor confused user into the Hell of Metro land where they would flounder helplessly. I heard that one loads of times. So switch the default app for PDFs, I'd say. It's just right-click on the file. But users wont know how to do that - they just want to read their PDF. Uh, you do know that Adobe Reader isn't part of Windows 7, right? That if the user just does it on Windows 7 it wont even open at all - just ask them if they want to install something that will read it? Uh, well, they respond. Some OEMs pre-installed Adobe Reader. Yeah, and they can do the same on Windows 8. Stop trying so hard to find things to struggle with.
Again you're thinking about a non-average user. An average user will just hate the mind jar switch to a deficient interface and the mind jar of how to get back to where they were previously (this is mind mapping allowing a user to visualise and refer to their position within an interface - it's a key user interface point and break it and you will confuse users).