There were balloons. There were streamers. There were brand new Ultrabooks, members of staff unfurling banners, and -- once other customers started to arrive -- there was even a vibe of genuine excitement for today's official launch of Windows 8 in the UK. But whichever aisle I scanned, nowhere was to be found what I had come to buy: a Windows 8 disc for desktop upgraders. It was a faltering start, but it was also strangely symbolic of my mission -- namely, to explore what Microsoft's latest operating system can do for regular desktop folk. People who, in other words, aren't yet looking to invest in touch-enabled monitors or laptops or all-in-ones; who rarely get the chance to lean back with a media-consumption tablet; and who simply want to upgrade their traditional tower PC before getting on with their lives. Read on past the break and you can begin this potentially short, hopefully sweet journey with me, starting with a quick rundown of my test rig (which also happens to be my mission critical work computer) and an anti-climactic revelation about whether, in the end, I ever found the software box I was looking for.