You've got the option of having the tiles, or 'start page' showing up first or your desk top, which doesn't have the 'Start' section in the bottom left corner, all that is there now is, with a right click, is an area about the size of the 'start' section with options such as 'programs and features' System', 'device manager', 'computer management', 'file explorer', 'search', control panel' and more, with the main one I use being the file explorer as this opens up the 'PC options', such as 'Documents', 'music', 'pictures', etc....
The tiles give you a quick link to what ever you want to put on the 'Start' page and you can set it up how you want, putting what ever 'shortcuts' you want, even deleting the programs from here if you want to.
For example, I have set my tiles to let me go straight to my e-mails, show the local weather, or where I am, webcam and sound recorder, notepad and a few more. You can add what you want and have them in a few differant sizes, small, medium, wide or large. This really does let you set it up how you want. Although to be honest these tiles are more for touchscreen PC's so with mine being a none touchscreen I don't get the full benefits. But it's nice to have.
Also, if you click on the little arrow under the tiles, at the left, you'll see a full list of all that is on the PC, in a sideways rolling motion. So with one click from there you're onto any program on there.
The desktop, as I have mine set to go there first, rather than the tiles, is like the other OS's, which is comforting.
I also have mine set to have a little folder showing in the 'taskbar', this is so that I have a quick link to the 'file explorer' and also it gives me a link to my recent open programs.
If you hold the mouse on the 'taskbar' it will show the thing you have open, showing a small 'page' which you then mouse on to go to, left clicking to open it up properly.
There's just so much to say about Windows 8, or 8.1 in my case, which is 8 but posher, so giving me a 500 word limit is just wrong. What I will say though is that this OS does take a bit of getting used to and can be a little bit annoying when things seem to want to go wrong. But all OS's have issues.
It's not 7, nor is it Vista, (which I loved despite all the horror stories), but it's not as bad as some people are claiming.