I'm not really interested in touch devices - I'm a graphic artist and having grubby finger marks all over my screen just isn't on - but I am a total Metro UI tragic these days so I wanted to see how Win8 would perform with a mouse and keyboard. To that end, I bought a 2nd hand Vaio P Series on eBay for a fraction of it's original price, downloaded the Dev Preview and spent a rainy Sunday installing one on the other.
The first thing I noticed was how much more responsive the machine was with Win8. With Vista, it took 2 or 3 minutes to get everything running before you could really use it. With Win8 it now starts as quickly as my serious laptop (Win7 64) and is ready to go almost immediately. Working with the Metro UI using a mouse and keyboard isn't quite as slick as I was hoping for but it definitely works OK. To get through to the desktop is a simple matter of hitting the Windoze key on the keyboard or clicking on the desktop Live Tile. Right-clicking on a Live Tile brings up exactly the same kind of menu across the bottom of the screen that we get in WP7, so the experience is both familiar and simple. I tried the weather app but it didn't seem to do anything, telling me it couldn't connect to the internet to get info. Later on, however, I noticed that the live tile was giving me data for California, but still showed the same message when I started the app again.
Win8 itself seems to have some cool features. e.g. when you are moving or deleting files, it creates a real-time graph to show how fast it is working, kinda like CPU activity in Task Manager. Task Manager itself has had a good overhaul too, with processes now grouped by function (applications, services, etc). When you are in the desktop, control panel appears in the familiar way (you get "Settings" on the Metro UI side). The Start Menu is a total disaster but hopefully that is just temporary. Notification balloons now sport a flat, Metro look. The default scheme seems to be green, with black text on a white background in most places. I looked for a way to change it but had no luck. Again, that will hopefully be attended to before release (I don't like green).
Overall, I am impressed so far. It has taken a netbook, with it's customary slowness and clunky feel and turned it into a real computer. The Media Accelerator 500 isn't really up to the task of smooth window animations but it gets the job done. In a Tegra 3 powered machine, I think Win8 would absolutely fly.
If there is anything specific you want to know, just ask. Keep it non-technical though, I am a user not a tinkerer.