This article from Ed Bott should answer your basic questions about how Windows 8 is different from 7 and XP and if its for you. I give this advice two thumbs up. One thing is for certain, if you are a Windows user your next computer will have Windows 8 or something very much like it. Microsoft is not turning back from the general themes introduced in Windows 8.
While I am primarily a Mac user, I use Windows all the time. At this point, Dec. 26 2012, I have to say that TODAY there is more freedom in using the Windows operating system than in using Mac. Freedom does not necessarily mean ease of use. Freedom should not be interpreted to mean more reliable. However, I just feel that people have more freedom in Windows today than in the Macintosh OS. Freedom to me means doing with my computer what I want and not what Apple or Microsoft tell me to. On the contrary some of you prefer more of a walled garden environment and given that computers are frightening I don’t hold that against you.