Windows 8 and 8.1 are better than Windows 7 in a magnitude of ways.
I have never been one to jump early to any new Microsoft product, but Windows 8 was worth it. There is only one reason to not move to Windows 8, and that is if you truly have software or hardware that will not work with it that you cannot upgrade.
Is 8 perfect, no, but is it extremely useable and has been very stable for me and my clients. It does have it's annoyances, but they are mostly trivial and easily worked around. Having to press a key to bypass the "Start" screen is a minor issue.
The point here is everyone knows how to use touch devices because of their mobile devices, so the transition to touch on the desktop is a rather intuitive one, and it can be completely ignored if one chooses to. I did that for a long time on a touch laptop, but now I find myself using it more and more because it is quicker and easier to use the tools it provides.
I encounter a lot of resistance from users that are quoting a lot of the drivel commented here, but once they spend a minimal amount of time using the interface, they largely forget about it and just get their work done.
Is it a perfect OS? No. But neither was XP, we just got used to it's issues and became complacent with them. There are many ways that Windows 8 can frustrate, but they are not worth ignoring the product and staying with the old stuff. I actually dread walking into clients now and finding Windows XP on systems, the interface seems primitive.