I've been using Windows 8 as my primary desktop at home for a couple of weeks now. I'm an early adopter type and I like getting used to new platforms, but the new "Metro" user interface that Windows 8 uses just kept getting in my way. I could not find a way to use it without constantly introducing several new and annoying steps into my workflow. I missed the old standard Start Menu and Desktop.
When Windows 8 first came out, the only way to disable the Metro interface or get a Start menu were some very scarey hacks or shady commercial apps. Now, though, there's a free utility called Classic Shell (classicshell.net) that gives you a fully functional Start Menu and takes you directly to your Windows Desktop when you login. If you've just moved to Windows 8 and long for the good ol' days, give it a try.
By the way, a reliable rumor on zdnet.com has it that Microsoft is bringing back the Start Menu and Desktop with the next major Windows update, codenamed Blue, expected later this year.
-- Brian Camp