Windows 8 is going to be fine. Microsoft will retool it and it will sell eventually. And as much as I like Linux it will never be a huge desktop success.
Growled, the issue Windows 8 has it that it dares to be different UI-wise from what has come before it.
Windows 8 makes the biggest UI change (according to the critics) since Windows 9x - darn right it will shake things up.
The critics get ALL the reasons why the change was made - however, they see THEMSELVES as "privileged" and "special"; hence all the whinery over the UI change.
As much as the UI changed, other than the Start menu (and all the foofaraw directly associated with it) being gone, what affect does the excision have on applications, or even the installation of applications? Even the critics admit that answer - none.
A lot of us (as users) have gotten fat and sassy (if not downright lazy-brained) by the overlong overhang of XP AND that it took two OS releases to get the Vista/7 driver model up to snuff. Therefore, those same users thought it was going to be another steady-state (read: safe) barely-evolutionary OS release from Microsoft.
How much we forget that Microsoft didn't get where it is by being safe - if you want safe, go to IBM.
Then you have Google and Apple - do you REALLY think that those two companies didn't (or don't) have plans to go after Windows itself? (In the case of Google, explain Chromebooks. In the case of Apple, explain the larger Retina-Display iPads.) As much as you may hate Steve Ballmer, he is NOT the late Admiral Isaac Kidd - who was indeed caught napping at Pearl Harbor. Late, yes - but not TOO late.
I called Windows 8 a counterattack/hedge-bet - and both strategies are proving out. The "counterattack" is composed partly of new form-factors (Ultrabooks and their progeny) and evolution of existing form-factors (such as touch-screen-but-otherwise-traditional notebooks, touchscreen AIOs, etc.); the "hedge-bet" is WindowsRT. The two-pronged strategy is indeed seriously reducing the bleeding - if not well on route to stopping it altogether. (That can, in fact, be enough - didn't Google have to take that approach by unifying the phone-centric 2.x and tablet-centric 3.x? Specifically, with 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich?)
Windows 8 has also been a wake-up for traditional (as in Win32) application developers (especially in terms of utilities, such as AV or disk maintenance). The biggest response has come from Condusiv (formerly Diskeeper Corporation, and prior to that, Executive Software), and Condusiv HAD to step up, as Disk Optimizer (Windows 8's included disk-maintenance program) was a threat. (It still is - unless you need features in Diskeeper 12, Disk Optimizer could well be the ONLY disk maintenance utility you'd need. I'd been a Diskeeper user since 1998, and a Diskeeper/Condusiv reseller/remarketer since 2002 - but I called it like I saw it - and I passed along the warning to Condusiv.)
Microsoft historically is not a do-things-safe company; they wouldn't be where they are if they were. (If anything, most Linux distributions are far more risk-averse than Microsoft, let alone Windows.)