The hullabaloo over the Windows 8 Start menu removal is overblown. Like many, at first I was thrown by the removal of the Start menu. It's not because I used it directly to launch programs, because I rarely accessed the menu as a program launcher. Rather, it seemed like a change for the sake of change. How did the presence of the Metro Start screen really inhibit Microsoft's grand plans to create a "no-compromises" experience of a touch-first, keyboard-usable operating system? I still don't quite understand the difference, really, but the good news for many is that it's an unimportant distinction anymore.
You'll get used to the Windows 8 Start menu eventually.
The taskbar in the traditional desktop environment still works the same way it did in Windows 7, and the pinning of applications, folders, documents and such still functions just fine. Spend a couple days pinning your most often-used items to your taskbar and you'll hardly ever need to be transported back to the modern-style Start screen. In the weeks that I've been using Windows 8, I haven't needed the Start screen to launch a program once. If Microsoft would restore the capability to boot natively to the desktop environment and skip the Metro screen, it would be even better.
This is, of course, technically possible, and in Windows Server 2012-which shares a common code base with Windows 8-you go right to the desktop once you log in. In the beta versions of Windows 8, you could enable a registry key to let you do this as well. This, then, is an artificial limitation Microsoft added in the release version, which is needless.
Takeaway: Don't be afraid of the lack of the Start menu or the new Start screen. Taken together, it's a non-issue in daily work. Invest in a bit of user training, but don't worry about having to make them accept this.
Windows 8 File Explorer: Nice, If You Like That Sort of Thing
File Explorer is more useful than I initially gave it credit for. I dismissed some changes in the Explorer interface as needless-who needs the ribbon in File Manager, really? I'm not completely sold that the ribbon was a must-have addition to Windows 8; in touch mode, it's difficult to use, so it's clearly not designed for touch-first tablets, but it's still pretty good for mouse and keyboard users.