Every new version of Windows sees Microsoft revamp the interface in a variety of ways, which presumably they think are a positive step forward. Yet somehow one of the most important elements, the Start Menu, is still tricky to navigate, slow, and doesn't make it particularly easy to find the programs you need.
There is an alternative, though, and it's called Start Menu X. If you've moved to Windows 8 and miss the Start Menu, then this tool is a perfect way to get it back. Just click the Start button, choose Programs and you'll see all your installed apps (if they fit on the screen, anyway), sorted into alphabetical order so you can immediately locate the one you need - easy.
You get similar links to other key system areas and folders, too: Computer, Control Panel, your desktop, the videos, music and documents folders, and more.
And handy extras include a customisable power buttons panel with a built-in timer feature. So not only can you select "Shut down", say, but you can alternatively tell the program to shut down your PC at 2:30AM tomorrow morning (or at whatever other date and time you like), useful if want some background task to finish but don't need the expense of leaving your system on all night.
While this version of Start Menu is free, if you find it useful then you may like the commercial Pro edition. It includes extras like one click launch for programs, menu customisation (sort your Start menu into tabs like "Games", Graphics", "Internet" and so on), quick uninstall (right-click a program on the menu to see an Uninstall option), and more. Check out the details on this page.