In this review of the final, RTM version of Windows 8, I'm not going to reexamine what's come before; almost everything discussed in my Release Preview review and in my Consumer Preview review still stands. There's no Start button on the desktop, and the utilities that managed to graft Start onto older beta versions don't work with the final RTM Win8. The new Metro Start screen remains relentlessly two-dimensional with flipping tiles that look like LEDs on the Vegas Strip. Moving from Metro to desktop and back again, especially on a large and touch-deprived monitor, will have you reaching for the Dramamine.
I can confirm after months in the trenches and talking with many hundreds of testers that anyone who defines "real work" as typing and mousing won't like Windows 8 one little bit. Let's take that as a given and move on from there.
Big changes in appearance In RTM, the transfer from the Vista-era Aero interface to the boxy, opaque, shadowless, glowless, and shine-free flatland style pioneered in Windows 3.1 seems complete, with one small exception: I don't know why, but the desktop taskbar still shows a bit of transparency (squint at the flower stalks in screen image below).
When the window border color is set to automatic -- as is the case in the screen image, the default -- the shade of window borders and the taskbar changes, depending on the hues in the desktop background. Some people like the new layout, some don't, but Aero is gone for good, apparently a victim of its power-draining excesses.
Windows Aero is no more, except for a trace of transparency in the Taskbar.
On the other hand, the Metro Start screen offers a surfeit of choices, with 20 swirly background patterns (including, mercifully, one option with no swirls at all) and 25 predefined color combinations. The result is a Start screen that greets seasoned Windows desktop fans with all the visual subtlety of an overflowing Bass-o-Matic. (See the Windows 8 Photo Gallery.)