Here's a quick, entirely true story of a windows 8 activation:
(Preface: I'm a software developer, and regularly develop under, run, and test with: XP, Win7, OSX, Mint, Ubuntu, etc. I like and use each of these for entirely different reasons.)
A friend of mine, non-programmer but average to above-average PC and Mac user for more than a decade, bought a new, name-brand, laptop that came with Windows 8 "pre-installed." I was over when she began booting it up for the first time.
The first boot / install began by asking for wif access, and asking for (unusually personal) mandatory information, phone number, email address, etc. which it then (presumably) validated. I did not see a way to bypass customer information capture, which is possible with every other OS I've had experience with.
Then it began an install routine, and crashed. We tried twice more, with some sort of connection failure to Microsoft crashing the install each time. On the fourth try, it finally succeeded, and then began an install that required (I believe) at least 3 in-process system reboots.
Almost an hour later, my friend was "rewarded" with the baffling windows 8 UI. Her reaction was exactly: "Well, it looks like you can go anywhere Microsoft wants you to."
After nearly an hour of raw frustration, intrusive marketing practices, you get hit with the UI from bizarro-world. And there's no obvious, intuitive way to use it like you would, say, every other computer that you've used in the last twenty years.
By the time we'd bothered to google for ways to defeat her new laptop's UI and use it like a general purpose computer, my friend had made up her mind.
She *hated* Windows 8. We returned the computer, stopped by the Apple store on the way home, and picked up a Macbook.
(She set it up in under 10 minutes, began using it right away, and has been happy with it since.)
I don't think my friend will ever buy an Windows machine again. And I can't say that I blame her.
I *still* can't believe Microsoft got something like the first hour of ownership/UX with their OS so completely wrong.
I remember reading something about Ballmer unilaterally kicking everyone who raised objections to the win8 UI off the team. I guess this is what happens when you fill a bench with yes-men, maybe?