Well, Windows 8.1 isn't so bad after all. It could be better, but it's not bad. I'm using the 90-day Enterprise Evaluation of 8.1.
I installed StartIsBack (after researching to find out which one I might like the most) and I installed Gadgets Revived. After that, everything was instantly a lot better. It enabled me to feel comfortable moving forward so that I could get closer to finishing my evaluation. At this point, I'd say that I'm almost done evaluating it and I would say that I wouldn't be able to tolerate Windows 8.1 without StartIsBack and Gadgets Revived.
I still have some complaints though: Thumbs.db seems to get randomly deleted in every folder. I found a fix for that (right here), but it's still not perfect. It was perfect at first, but it has degraded into something slightly worse than perfect, but it's still better than what it was before this fix.
I also don't like not having the menu bar in File Explorer and being forced to use the Ribbon even though "Always show menus" is enabled in Folder Options.
My brain is a bit fried at the moment, so I'm probably forgetting some of my other complaints.
There is one thing I noticed though that I do like a lot more than Windows 7: when you want to copy or move files to a location where files or folders will be overwritten, a simple dialog box comes up that enables a single-click to say "yes, overwrite everything" rather than being forced to first click "Do this for all conflicts".
Another thing I like is actually something pretty minor: the automatic color changing feature that tries to choose the best color based on the current wallpaper. I have hundreds of wallpapers and I have the transition speed hacked to be 4 seconds and I have the wallpaper change every 30 seconds. What I like about this auto-color change is that I can never decide on a color. One second I want this color, the next second I want that one, then the next second I want this other color, and on and on it goes until I just finally choose a neutral color. lol
Oh yeah, and Outlook 2003 works perfectly. All I had to do was install Service Pack 3 for Office 2003 before opening Outlook. I love it!
I'll try to use this every day so that I can find more likes and dislikes. So far though, I could probably use this as my primary operating system.
Next up: I'll be trying other Start Menu apps and Classic Shell. I don't know when though... I think I'll try Classic Shell first.