It Starts Here..
Windows 8/8.1.. It isn't anything like as bad as you may have heard..
So, if you install the same programs as you would want or may already have in Windows 7 , and you also install a 3rd party start menu like Start8 or Classic Shell (free), what you have is a greatly improved operating system over Windows 7. I have set up a few people who have bought Windows 8 computers, and they all like them.
Agreed that the initial screen is a huge shock, but Microsoft is slowly bringing about change for the better, and there will be more change appearing in March as part of the Patch Tuesday package.
Apart from the fact that one is dumped unceremoniously into the Metro front end, there is nothing in the rule book which states that one has to stay there.
The screenshot below shows my desktop. At the top, which is where I position my task bar, you can see the Start8 start button, Quick Launch, tabs for the open Windows, the notiifcation area complete with clock and stuff, temporary icons down the left side, and an open IE 11page. My background is all black. I find it easier on the eyes, and icons stand out better.. This is the way that I run Windows 8.1, and I ran Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, ME, 98 and 95 in exactly the same way too
You may not like my choice of background, but all of the other elements should not be strangers, and it makes best use of the desktop space.
All I can say is that Windows 8.1 in desktop form works extremely well, and I would not return to Windows 7. There is no good excuse for not upgrading to either Windows 8.1 or a computer supplied with Windows 8.1. The changes that I made to the basic Windows 8 package can all be done for free, and take just a few minutes to install.
Windows XP loses all support as of April 2014. The operating system has had its day, and it is definitely time to move on. Consider upgrading your computer. I know that it is not cheap, but if you stay with an old computer running XP, you will be on the wrong side of 'bad'.
Linux operating systems can be installed on older ex-Windows machines which give you all functions, just not 'Microsoft Windows' functions, and are FREE and still supported.
Buying ex-lease oldies is fraught with potholes in the form of small, slow hard drives, minimal memory, refurbed old keyboards and mice. If you have the cash, get a new Windows 8 computer.