I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about Windows 8 Preview, but never published it. Today I deleted it since many people on Windows 7 now and 8.1 was released last year. If you are using anything less than Windows 7, upgrade to it immediately. My recommendation is to backup your data files, then perform a clean (or fresh) install so you don't drag old problems forward by upgrading. There are plenty of other sites that will cover how to do that. Just upgrade.
But why not Windows 8/8.1? If you have a Windows phone or tablet, you already have a version of Windows 8. That's as it should be since they are finger friendly devices and Windows 8.x is a finger-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) originally called Metro. But for a desktop or laptop without a touch screen? Why bother? Yes, there are plenty of enhancements beyond the GUI, but the "Metro" GUI is beyond frustrating. I use it on a regular basis, so I' not just a nay-sayer. In fact, I've forced myself to use it for over two years.
The only way it is usable is to click on the Desktop tile to get to a normal desktop. Then it is still maddening to get to all the tools you used before 8.x. I pin all my frequently used apps icons to the taskbar so that they are always visible and just a click away. Windows 8.1 added the option to boot straight to the desktop, so naturally that is what I do. It also adds Close buttons on Metro apps like all the app windows you are used to.
Microsoft has finally come to terms with their bone-headed decision to force Metro on everyone and the next version of Windows 9 promises to be more like Windows 7 with a traditional desktop design. We shall see if it is worth the upgrade. There are rumors Microsoft will issue a preview edition as they have in the past.
But really, Windows 8 and later should all be free or extremely low cost upgrades for desktops or laptops as penance for Microsoft's mistake. They owned the desktop world and then gave their customers a reason to explore their competitors offerings. First because of their slow response to viruses and malware, then Metro. Remember when you got your first copy of Windows? It was probably 3.1 or 95 and you got it free because there was no license control. Microsoft should give away Windows 9 to re-establish their desktop market share.