Average Users and Windows 8
Yes, this is another one of those posts, but I think this is a point that has been largely ignored, so please hear me out.
You read The Verge, and not only are you a reader, you take the time to browse through the fourms. What does this mean? Two things, (1) you have great taste in journalism, and (2) you most likely are someone who is experienced with computers. Both of these are very good things, but they mean that you don't represent the average computer user. Not by a long shot. Most people struggle with computers; they hardly know how to check their ISP-provided email service. Most people barely are capable of using Windows 7 as is.
Have you ever tried to make someone's digital life "easier" by introducing them to a more efficient way to navigate through the filesystem, advising them to use Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer, or organizing their cluttered desktop that contains every file on their computer? What happens? It depends on the person's maturity and willingness to learn, but in most cases they react negatively. They get confused and refuse to adapt, so you might revert your changes or change the Chrome icon to Internet Explorer's, even though you had good intentions. Just because a UI may be simpler to use, doesn't mean that using it will be easier for the average person.
Minimalist ≠ intuitive.
Now imagine this kind of person with Windows 8. Their entire computing experience has been turned upside-down. They'll have to learn how to use their computer with no Start menu, with a different theme (yes this can be very important to some people), and with all their knowledge of how to use the darn thing thrown out the window. And yes, they may eventually learn how to use Windows 8 because they had no other option, but forcing a consumer to accept change for change's sake is, in my opinion, a user interface failure.
Now it is reasonable to think that this shouldn't be a problem, since most people don't upgrade their computers. Most people have been using the same computer for a long time and have no interest in or awareness of Windows 8. So that might be the thing that saves Windows 8 from public shaming, because the people that know how to use it are (for the most part) the only ones who will buy it. Still, the people that get new Windows PCs may be shocked at the new interface, and that will cause problems.
So when you get Windows 8, you might love it and accept it as the only way to use a computer. That's wonderful, but you likely do not represent the vast majority of Windows users, I'm sorry to say. The bottom line is, we'll never know for sure what the impact of Windows 8 will be on the average consumer until the first praises/complaints start coming through after its release. I'm just saying that Microsoft has a difficult situation on their hands, and it's not wise to confuse your user base in the name of change. We'll see how this all plays out.