Re: Wary Upgrade
Given both Windows 8's status and the hardware available when you were probably looking, I don't blame you for going with Windows 7.
I think some who shared your experience might be pleasantly surprised by the new Windows 8.1 devices, though. 8.1 won't be just like Windows 7; there's still a learning curve, albeit not the steep one that was in Windows 8. But 8.1 gives you a lot more flexibility to ignore the Tiles, and on my Surface Pro, I find the 8.1 desktop much faster and stabler than any Windows 7 machines I've ever used. I think Windows 8.1's native apps are actually useful, so I'd encourage people to check them out, even those people who were turned off by the Modern UI in the original version of Windows 8.
Windows 8.1 is still probably most geared for tablet/hybrid users, but I think it will be more popular than Win 8 among "regular" laptop users as well-- not as popular Windows 7 was, but probably good enough if you're in the market for a new, high-quality laptop and don't want/ can't buy a MacBook Air or Pro.