Yeah anybody I speak to regarding Windows 8 thinks it's gonna' be a failure. I'm of a mixed opinion- don't know what direction it's going to go in. If the sales of all in one desktops continues to increase, with touch interfaces, much to our dismay windows 8 may do very well.
However I don't think the omission of the start button and menu will be permanent. Far too many usage scenarios where that is just a more efficient UI. However I can see MS implementing a radically redesigned UI for Windows 9- one that is intuitive for touch as well as one more streamlined and natural for those rocking a keyboard and mouse (such as all of us here). Because of the failure I think Windows 8 might be I'm actually really excited about Windows 9.