I don't know why people complain about Windows 8. I set my computer up in about half an hour and it was just as functional as Windows 7. I installed Classic Shell as a precaution but actually found myself using the start menu less.
It's not so much that Win8 is bad, but that it represents an ideological shift in Microsoft that's moving towards closed systems. You said it yourself, desktop mode in Win8 is not fully functional by default, to get the same sort of functionality as Win7 you have to download third party software. The OS by default tries to get you to use the new Start screen, and to use Modern apps that you can only purchase from the Windows Store. I'm sure Win8 has plenty of new stuff that makes it a worthwhile upgrade for you, the new task manager and file transfer UI's are particularly nice. But for me, and curmudgeons like me, I don't want to reward Microsoft with my money for moving in a direction I don't want them to go down, and as a consumer I can only vote with my wallet.
Right on the money, though I do find the Metro interface to be less than intuitive.
This is Microsoft making change for change's sake. There's no reason not to have the Start menu in the classic desktop other than to force me to go in a direction in which I have no need to go.