The Windows 8 Modern interface was optimized for touch devices. If you have a tablet or touch monitor you’ll really like the new interface. If you don’t, you may be ready to throw your new computer out the door. Hopefully I can help.
Windows 8 uses “hot corners” for your mouse which emulate the options available when you swipe the touch interface. I’m not a fan of hot corners and found using shortcut keys much more consistent. There are plenty of shortcut keys but I’m going to cover the ones that will immediately help if you don’t have a touch device.
Some good news may come soon from Microsoft with an update that will allow you to start your computer in the familiar desktop mode. Until then you can use WinPatrol with it’s trick to start you on the desktop. Even easier, just press theWindows logo key + D and voilà you’re on the desktop.
Windows Key + C
Opens the “Charms Bar” on the right side. This bar is required to access some settings and especially if you want to shut down your computer. Accessing this touch screen friend swipe can be frustrating with a mouse. The Charms Bar is application specific so many of the choices, especially Settings, will change depending on what application you’re running. It’s available in both the Modern tile mode and Desktop mode.
Windows Key + X
Brings up a handy menu that provides easy access to many popular tools. Some applets will be familiar but you’ll notice Explorer is now appropriately named “File Explorer” and is still available with Windows Key + E.This will help its confusion with Internet Explorer.
Task Manager doesn’t look the same and the updated includes much more functionality. Every choice runs in Desktop mode except the new “Search” applet which switches you to the Modern interface. It’s worth learning more about Search.
And that's just a small bit of the goodness in BillP's article. Well worth a read.
I printed it out for a new Windows 8 User.