I don't find it that bad. In fact, one you switch to desktop mode it is basically like any other windows version. And I actually like the new "start menu".
And one of the think I really like is that they push something that actually new to the public and not a ripoff of Apple's stuff. And I sincerely think that they are holding something good here.
Like everything new, it is perfectible. And I think that Microsoft (and their competitors too) will closely monitor how users will react once they get familiar with the UI so that can move in the right direction.
As for the "gorilla arm" syndrome I think it is obivous for everyone at Microsoft that people wont spend 8 hours a day tapping their laptop screen without interruption. The touchscreen is just another input device, like the keyboard and the mouse. Users and UI designers will learn about whatever device is the best for a given task. Afterall people have no problem using both keyboard and mouse.
And in case you ask : No, I am no Microsoft shill, I mostly use linux, windows 7 and android. I just decided to try windows 8 a bit and it didn't turn as bad as people make it.