Sounds like all you know about Windows 8 is the start menu / metro application FUD. How about:
(long list of stuff)
Most of these are useless features that either are not relevant or address the wrong thing, though.
Shit that I neither need nor want. Sending account data over the internet, and storing it on a Microsoft server, what an awesome idea (and, not knowing exactly what data or in what country and with what security measures your data will be stored). Besides, nothing you couldn't do before, only without the fancy buzzwords "Cloud" and "Skydrive".
Better Multi-Monitor support
Works perfectly well with Win7. In fact, worked almost perfectly, with some minor limitations, under WinXP for decades, too.
Better Explorer UI (With enhanced file copy dialog)
Of course, the useless file copy dialog is an outstanding operating system feature. Are you kidding me? Even more so as the Metro interface pretty much tries to get rid of the Desktop interface (which includes Explorer).
A true improvement (though of Explorer, not of "Windows") would be if moving/deleting/copying files was not implemented in such a darn stupid way alltogether (think of deleting a folder with 50,000 files).
Better Task Manager
The normal user won't understand much of the displayed information anyway. A normal user should not need Task Manager at all, except to kill a hung process once every 2-3 months or so. For that, the user only needs the information "Program name", and the option "Kill". Which the built-in Program-is-not-responding "smartness" should handle already, if it only worked as intended.
A programmer will not want to use Task Manager anyway, so it's irrelevant inhowfar it may or may not be better.
Refresh and Restore
Again, shit nobody needs, as it is addressing the symptom instead of the illness. Rather than removing the need to restore the system ever so often, they offer a faster and "better" way to do it. Great plan.
Unix-like systems just don't fuck up so you need to restore every week, one has to wonder why (yes they have other problems, but this certainly isn't one of them).
What would be a substantial improvement, that'd be a Windows with a useful security system (instead of an annoying but useless one) that doesn't allow every crap to brick your system.
Shit that nobody needs. Also, not substantially different from contingents, which already nobody needed. The more "smart" you get with disks, the harder it hits you once something breaks, one just shouldn't do that kind of thing. Being able to mount a volume at a particular mount point is by all means good enough as a "special feature" for a consumer operating system, in order to give the illusion of "one big disk".
If you really want/need something like "contingents" or "storage space", get a quality hardware RAID controller, buy a few extra disks, and run it in a non-dumb mode with redundancy. At least then you still have a fair chance to recover your data when a disk blows up or when Windows for some mystical reason won't boot any more, so BartPE or LinuxRescueCD are the only things that you have left in your hands (neither of which understand the super smartness of "storage spaces").
Of course you can also boot from the Windows DVD, which will scan for problems for half an hour and will then tell you that it couldn't find problems that can be fixed, offering to format the disk and reinstall Windows. Yay.
Faster Startup Times
The POST takes as long as Win7 starting, so where is the beef? Besides, that's probably the most ridiculous "feature" ever. If you have to start/restart 3-4 times on a single day, that's already a lot (including the retarded restarts imposed onto you by Windows Update and program installs!). What true, observable difference is there in 8 seconds versus 9 seconds on an average day where you boot exactly once in the morning?
What would really be an improvement, that'd be if you didn't need to restart your computer for updates and installs in the first place, and if Windows update wasn't nagging you every fucking 10 minutes for such useless stuff (luckily, group policies let you disable that, like most crap, but you have to painfully figure it out first).
Better File History
Again, shit that nobody needs, just like the retarded virtualization they introduced with Vista, instead of properly enforcing access rights. Don't fuck with the user in such a way. Don't always try to be smarter than the user.
Don't keep stuff on the disk when the user said he doesn't want it any more. Don't save stale versions, except when the user explicitly said he needs those (and for that, there's dedicated backup software, or revision control software). Just. Don't.
More shit that nobody needs. An useless service that takes away system resources, costs write cycles, and offers very little in return.
Not a Win8 feature, but a BIOS feature, and the absolutely worst "feature" ever, even more so as Win8 locks itself in secretly without user consent. This, by definition, makes Windows 8 malware.
Besides, you should call it by its proper name, "Vendor Lock". It is not "secure" in any way, it only prevents you from booting into another operating system (it doesn't prevent bad people with physical access to your computer from doing bad things with it).
Better Security Settings
You should rather say "more dumbed down settings". With every Windows version, security settings are not getting better, they are only getting fewer. With Win8, you get to choose between an obscure A, B, and C, and some guy at Microsoft decides what's the best settings for you, and you're not being told what exactly is different between A, B, and C. Soon you'll not even get to choose at all any more.
Obscurity is, and has always been, one of the biggest problems with Windows security. Even as a somewhat educated user, you have no fucking clue what exactly is different between choosing "office network" or "home network" (apart from the misleading two-line description), or what exactly each of the 50 services that run by default is doing, which ones you need for daily operation, which ones are possibly harmful, and which ones you can disable without making the system unbootable. Not without spending a lot of time into research, anyway. It's even worse if you use a non-English Windows where all names have been translated in the most hideous possible way, so native speakers can't sometimes even understand their meaning and searching the web for them is an ordeal.
Better Family Controls
Again, shit -- not addressing the problem. Parent your kids instead of relying on some software to block what some guy at Microsoft thinks is right, and limit access to some hours, block some programs, etc.
This is like owning a gun. If you can't lock your gun in a strongbox and assert that your kids understand that guns are not toys, and that guns kill people, and if you can't teach them never to touch a gun when you're not in the room, then you just shouldn't have kids -- or a gun (or either of them). It's the same with a computer and the internet, or with alcohol, or with any other harmful thing.
People have raised kids with harmful things (wild animals, knives, cliffs, water) around them for millenia. People have taught their kids to handle these dangers for millenia. Some are admittedly just too stupid for that, and that's what "natural selection" takes care of, but most parents get it right 99.9% of the time. At least they used to, until it became "normal" to abandon kids and let the TV and the internet educate them while they feed on a mix of sugar and corn starch.
Awesome Quick Access Menu
Awesome in what way? How many times per day do you need to install/remove programs, change power settings, or open the control panel? Surely, you need a dedicated hotkey for these. Shame there's no hotkey for the start menu, now that would be truly useful... oh wait, there was one, once upon a time.
It does what exactly that Joe Average needs?
Better Battery Life
Maybe, maybe not, not interesting for desktop anyway, and not what I see here. When the computer is idle and left alone, my UPS shows 125W under Windows XP (105W with EPU-6). Under Windows 7, it shows 90W, and under Windows 8 it equally shows 90W.
However, seeing how much useless crap is being animated, blurred in and out, and being blended in and out all the time I very much doubt that the "better battery life" claim is true at all (assuming you actually use the computer for something). Unless of course the GPU on your mobile magically runs pixel shaders without consuming energy because of Windows 8. If Windows 8 can truly do that, I apologize, in that case it is awesome.