We all remember Start Menu. We don't want it to go away. But it did! In Windows 8. The Start Screen replaces it quite expertly, but unless you have a touch input device, moving your mouse around on it can be a chore. Alas, the Start Menu is in Windows' roots, and you can bring it back from there with a simple tweak anyone can do, no installing programs involved!
As I said, it's in Windows' roots. Well, it's a few files down from the root, actually. Assuming "C:\" is the drive where you installed Windows, it's at "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs". There are all the folders with the program shortcuts, as you knew! Hooray!
If you know your Windows you might have guessed this next part, but you can still make this folder behave a bit more like the Start Menu of old: pin it to the taskbar! To do so, right click the taskbar, go to the "Toolbars" submenu and then add a new one. Then, paste this folder-path I just said into the explorer-box, and confirm. Now you have it there, easy to find!
If you want, you can even unlock your taskbar and drag this toolbar to the left of your pinned programs! Now it's almost as if Windows still worked the way you want it to.