Ok.. I've updated to Win 8.1 and the main thing you notice is a button to go to the start screen, and I think they've made some sort of change to how stuff's organized on the start screen. My main reason to upgrade was that Hyper-V has been updated (virtual machine thingy) and that VMs are supposed to run faster. Not sure about that just yet
That's actually a logical outcome of the whole snafu. Turn Win8.2 into a skeletonized Type I hypervisor for running user-friendly VMs (such as Win7). The core kernel seems to be a major improvement on the old code base, its the UI that is hosed. So have 8 run the hardware and let users choose their OS "skin".
I have an old laptop that I used to run with Linux Mint as the host OS, and ran various VMs under VMware Player. Mostly Win7 Home, but also a couple of Linux VMs and a Windows Server 2003 appliance. Win 7 Home was my "working" environment; aside from running Player I mostly used Mint for web surfing. That machine didn't have enough CPU, and RAM maxed out at 4 GB, but I got a lot of work done on it. I sort of plan to go that route again on my next laptop, next time I will forgo long battery life and get CPU and video that benchmarks out closer to ultrabook standards.