How did the metro interface get in the way? With Windows 8.1.1, desktop stays in desktop. Did your wife only ever use 8.0? (if so that would explain a lot).
I find Win8.1.1 to be quite functional, usable, stable, and productive. I freely admit that 8.0 was kind of annoying unless you wanted to spend a fair amount of time tweaking and climbing a learning curve. But Win8.1.1 (without any Start8 crutches required) works pretty well.