Similar experience here Tony. Microsoft really blundered by doing away with the start menu, which makes Win 8 really frustrating to use for anyone familiar with earlier versions, in a perfect demonstration of how to alienate a customer base. In the end, I installed a 3rd party start menu utility (Pokki I think), which has taken most of the pain away.
In many ways it's a superior product: there are some performance improvements under the hood, and plenty of decent free apps in the store. However, the Metro interface works poorly without a touchscreen, and the old desktop is painful to use unless you can teach yourself lots of keyboard shortcuts, or install a 3rd party tool.