Alas, the only machines I can find with 8 are refurbished ones, which has made me take a step back. After all, who knows what nasties an initial user may have put on the laptop? Or is that paranoia...?
Yes, that's paranoia, at least if they're factory refurbished. Refurbishment from the factory involves checking over all of the hardware and reimaging the hard drive. There's nothing left from the previous owner and, very often, you wouldn't know that the machine is not brand new if you didn't already know that it's refurbished.
I cannot speak to third-party refurbishers.
You couldn't get me to purchase a Windows 8 or 8.1 machine. Either Windows 7 or Windows 10 is simply a better OS overall, though in different ways. Windows 10 is not the privacy nightmare the conspiracy theorists posit and you can prove that to yourself by setting all your Privacy options as you want them then monitoring the actual traffic that goes back to Microsoft servers. I do not and never have used the PDA feature of Cortana, turned off my advertising ID immediately after setup, and turned off a lot of the other options, with the exception of system health telemetry. The amount of data leaving my machine under Windows 10 back to Microsoft isn't much different than it was under Windows 7.
Brian AKA Bri the Tech Guy (my website address is in my profile) Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, Version 1709, Build 16299
Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.
~ Lauren Bacall