I think I'll go the VM route at first, it may not give me the experience of gaming on the system, but I'll get a good idea of how the system works.....I am really interested in the Win8 task manager and general UI improvements, plus the improved dual monitor support (I use third-party software for dual monitor taskbars in Win7, but that's literally the only feature of the third-party software I use).
You reinstall every 6 months?
... Hmm... My Windows 8 install on my main system is over 6 months old. I guess I should reinstall ... na ... everything is working great
Yeah, I have a tendency to add and remove software, sometimes it's just software I didn't enjoy using (and found a better alternative) other times its something I installed for a one-time use, occasionally it's something I used a few times but haven't touched in months. Even uninstalling, or going further and running something like Revo Uninstaller to remove leftovers, it still seems to eventually clutter the system up to the point it has noticeable effects that wouldn't be there had the software never been used.
Do you legally already own a copy of 8, if not why would you be looking to spend the money for no reason. What aspect of windows 8 do you require or want that is not part of your current windows 7?
Windows 7 is a viable OS for many years to come. Unless there is something in 8 that you want or need, there is no reason to change to it. But there are many reason that could be pointed out not too. Have you not been reading any of the threads here on it?
The money spent on windows 8 would prob be better spent on more ram or SSD or better graphics card if you looking to extend the life of your current system. Or give it a bit of performance boost.
Also - since you seem to be inflicted with WRS (windows reinstall syndrome) "I normally reinstall every 6 months or so" The suggestion of taking an image of your clean install is a good idea My previous install was years old, only reason I recently reinstalled was I finally moved to SSD - other than that it was working great. But the move to SSD was nice performance bump - the samsung 840 pro series rocks!!
I wouldn't say there is anything I've seen in Win8 that I feel I require, but there are improvements to the general system that would have a positive affect on how I use my computer (improved task manager, improved dual monitor support, etc).
I already have a SSD (though it's a Gen1 drive, it's still running strong), with 24GB of ram and an AMD 6950 graphics card, probably the weakest part of my system is the video card, but it's playing games I play at 1920x1200 with acceptable quality and frame rates, so I'm not looking to upgrade it.
And yes I definitely suffer from WRS....the only problem is my base software tends to change slightly over that 6 months (for example I started this current install out using Chrome as my browser, I now use Firefox), or my hardware changes within that 6 months. Making images unreliable because they end up with the wrong software or wrong drivers for my system.