At the office we moved from a ban to acceptance of Windows 8 and we are seeing none of the crashes you are reporting. Very very strange and tells me that you do not want any of the machines you tried out!
In parting we found CLASSIC SHELL to put the start menu back along with what we wanted.
Item 2. That varies with each machine but I would not buy ANY of the machines you tried. Really really sad to see your choices were so bad today.
I recently had to buy a new computer for my home office, basically for data entry and word processing. When I bought a new desktop PC, they all had Windows 8 pre-installed on them at the local shops here. I've been using it for a while, and it is completely non-functional with the software I need to use for my work. Constant crashes, windows explorer freezes EVERY time I open it (I can't browse for files in explorer at all, have to go to a program and browse using the "open" command), copy and paste does not work, ETC ETC ETC. I see that these are problems for many people using 8. It's been an absolute nightmare to work with. I need to go back to something more stable (and it looks like 8.1 has not cured the incompatibility problems I'm dealing with, so PLEASE take this seriously and don't suggest that - thanks!).
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to just wipe everything off my computer and install Windows 7, which works fine for my business partner running the same programs. But I have no idea which version to get. I know I need 64-bit, but the available version on Amazon is called "Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit, System Builder OEM DVD 1 Pack (New Packaging)." http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Premium-System-Builder-Packaging/dp/B00H09BB16/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393441384&sr=8-1&keywords=windows+7
1) What is the difference between this "OEM system builder" and a "full version" package?
2) How do I go about getting a re-installation disc for Windows 8 for when Windows 7 is no longer supported at all and I absolutely have to upgrade (assuming hopefully that the bugs are worked out by 2020)? The manufacturer of my PC is HP, and I bought it at Staples. It did not come with an install disc, which I guess is standard now? UGH.
Thanks for any serious suggestions from people who do not work for microsoft.