Depends on your perspective

In my opinion, the world is going away from desktop and laptop computing and Windows 8 is a glimpse of the future. While I have been using Win 8 for a month now, I have a split opinion. I will address only your desktop question and not get into tablet functionality.

As a professional, you will be familiar with Windows keyboard shortcuts, or will need to be to move through easily. The Start button has been replaced with a Start Screen with the tiles. However, the start button can be added back and the Live tiles can be suppressed. I can use my desktop just like I did with Windows 7. However it does have a few quirks I have not figured out yet.

Only Win 8 has IE 10 and it is the default browser. Many web pages do not work with it yet so it is almost like using an iPad to watch Flash video--it tells you that it cannot find the page. IE9 is still there too from the desktop but I have yet to try and see if I can make it or firefox the default.

Personally, I think Win 8 boots up faster than Win 7 did but that may seem so since the Start screen comes up quickly, but if I go to the desktop, the desktop seems to still be booting up.

I would not use anything less than Pro version though because you lose functionality of Windows media center in the standard Windows 8.

I like the interface but as a person that takes pride in learning quickly, I had little problem learning. if you are responsible to teach others then it might prove slow going for a newbie.