I have played around a little with Windows 8, and I like it well enough that I'll probably buy a copy and run it on Parallels on my Mac. Unless you opt for one of the touch screen laptops, you're probably better off running Windows 8 on a Mac because of the superior trackpad.
As for price, there are a few ways to save $, if you know where to look. Microcenter often has deals. One of my favorite places is MacMall. Check out their Open Box Outlet, where you can find stuff steeply discounted. Also, I recommend the Apple refurbished outlet (http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac
) . Those products look the same, they come factory reconditioned, and have the same warranty as the new product. I've been able to get some great deals there.