I went ahead and upped to 8 from 7 mainly for the new Netflix app -- it adds surround-sound and better video bitrates (though my ISP, Roadrunner, will never get the co-lo enhanced HD, I'm sure). It supports the remote a bit (play/pause and arrows/enter), but I never really bothered setting up for WAF as I never achieved WAF for myself.
On the whole, otherwise, Win8 "Modern" apps are garbage. I didn't bother with the Hulu app as it's Plus-only; instead I had the Hulu Desktop player installed w/ 7, and it still worked when upgrading (even though the Upgrade Advisor said it wouldn't).
So I don't really use the Start screen, as (since Vista) I pin my key apps to the Taskbar, and create taskbar groups for easier program access. There's still all the old "Start menu" shortcuts in a handy hidden folder in your user account that you can either make as a taskbar folder, or put a shortcut to. No need for a replacement program, though there are some decent ones.
Stardock's "Modern Mix" lets me run the Netflix app in a window, so I can side-by-side with a browser (I mainly use Chrome with NotScripts and Adblock). You'll need the latest Beta so the sound doesn't mute automatically when the app doesn't have focus.
Supposedly, Flash is "sandboxed" and "optimized" in IE10, so I set up pinned taskbar items for my usual streaming sites (Crunchyroll, Funi, Youtube). Aside from forgetting passwords occasionally, it works well for that.
I use the WMC add-on for DVR (w/ HDHomerun Prime + cablecard) and sometimes music (normally Pandora for that). I had bought ZoomPlayer a long time ago so I have that for misc downloaded/ripped video playback, though I've used MPC in the past and probably like that better for the remote support. I just have LAV installed for playback support (not the Shark pack).
I do a lot of windowed-video-plus-browser using a Bluetooth Logitech mouse (rarely need the keyboard except for config, the Accessibility keyboard helps for quick password entry when needed, and the extra buttons on the mouse and the remote can be assigned useful keystrokes). I don't rip discs, generally, so I don't really need a media browser solution; I just use the mouse in the filesystem a la desktop (but from my recliner, of course).
I did more config to ensure that defaults for various file formats totally avoid Modern apps and open in their desktop equiv. All of the normal classic Control Panel can be accessed via File Explorer, so you rarely need to access the Modern version. I made shortcuts to trigger Restart and Shutdown, but those are primarily for maintenance purposes as I always leave it on. The trick to autologin is the same as Win7, and setting up a System Event to open explorer.exe sends me straight to the desktop if I want (but since I cleaned up the Start screen to remove the annoying apps, I don't bother with that). I can navigate the Tiles fine with the remote, but I don't bother personally. Maybe someday if there are more worthwhile apps, but ModernMix allows me to pin those to the taskbar as well, so there's not much point. I can assign taskbar items to keystrokes and put those in my remote if I want, as well (haven't bothered yet).
On the whole I figure I didn't put in any more configuration time than I do for any Win7 installation (poking through gpedit, setting up taskbar folders, etc).
Upgrading directly from Win7 (after making a snapshot image, of course) was probably the biggest surprise, in that most everything I had installed (including tuner drivers) came across unmolested. Probably because 8 is basically 7 with "enhancements" (improved file copy, way better Task Manager). Aesthetically it's "meh"; I've made it even duller by using grays and blacks and muted colors since it's the media that is more important to me.
So it's obvious I use mine more like a desktop (though w/o a keyboard 98% of the time) and so what I did would be a barrier to those who need better WAF or want a more unified/slick look & feel. But Win8 isn't really a total disaster and there are plenty of ways to massage it to do what you want, though not necessarily the way you've always done things.