W8 is OK, if you eliminate Metro by installing something like Classic Shell.
IMO, Linux Mint Mate is the best current Linux GUI.
If I hadn't gone through the pain of customising Ubuntu 10 to my liking, I'd install Linux Mint (Mate) on my HDD.
That said, I mostly use W7 (I use Ubuntu for one or two specific purposes).
Keep Up with TechRepublic