Sadly, like everything else these days, Microsoft has created a dumbed down user interface in Metro. If I wanted a cell phone interface I'd buy a smart phone. Most desktop users want to do wok not play. Indeed! You reflect my sentiments precisely. As I've seen how the new Start screen works with the Tiles, I couldn't help thinking about Windows 3.1 with the groups of application icons. Excepting that an application's Tile provides a smidgeon of status/summary info, I don't yet see how they do much good. If you use an application often enough that you want its Tile on your main Start screen, wouldn't that application already be open? If that's the case, then all Microsoft needed to do is create a notification/status "balloon" for applications appearing on the Taskbar. However, if you ask me, I think they're pushing the new Start screen because it's glitzy-looking and different. Other than that, I can live without the Tiles, etc.
Thing is, I kinda like having BOTH options available to me. I tend to have NUI (Metro) on one screen and Desktop on the other, giving me access to useful apps and nice interfaces whilst chunking away through my work in the Desktop environment. It's the best of both worlds and I have everything I need / want on my Surface RT to take with me. I love the RT - I know it's not a full laptop but it does a lot more than any other tablet and it's a tablet I wanted - portable, lightweight, long batter life, useful apps especially the fantastic new Office Beta that bundled with it. Unless you're into Pivot tables and the like, Office RT provides all the functionality of the full office that most people would actually use in their day to day (and work) lives.
The lack of a Start Button is no problem for me. There are a ton of keyboard shortcuts (like there are with Apple) to make navigating even faster and don't forget, most of the time you can simple start typing and search for the app/control panel or whatever you would normally look for from the start menu. In that sense, it's easier, not harder and just as comprehensive. You can also put all your control panel / management shortcuts as tiles too.
I just don't understand the complaints. The Mail app is rubbish though :-) And I still prefer Zune (The Mail, Music, Video, People and Messaging apps have been dumbed down, even against WP7.5 I think, but aside from that, all good here!).
I do agree that Windows 8 on a non-tablet does tend to work best with two screens or at least a touch screen but more laptops coming on the market with touch screens which should help.
On a final note, if people really want the Start button back there are apps that will give you this - for the traditionalist :-)
Hope this helps... stick with it...