Steve Ballmer might have been bouncing about on stage with excitement at the Windows 8 launch, but we know not everything the big B touches is magic. Microsoft has thrown a lot out the Windows (sorry, we had to) with the new operating system, making it a less than familiar place when you first get started.

Keen to speed up the learning process? Why not take a scan of the below? It's a list of straightforward and simple how-tos that should have you blasting through Windows 8 in no time.

You have just installed Windows 8 and all of a sudden you notice your taskbar to be more barren than before. No Start menu. What madness is this?

Windows 8 has ditched the Start menu, replacing it with the Start screen. From here you can do just about everything you would be able to with the start menu, including launch applications and view folders.

To open the Start screen you need to do one of three things. If you have a touchscreen machine, swiping to the right edge will bring up the Charm menu. From there tap the Start charm. If you are using a keyboard, then the Windows logo will do the same. Or you can move the cursor to the lower left corner of the screen, if the start icon appears, click it and you're away.

Another thing we took for granted that has disappeared into the ether slightly with Windows 8 is Control Panel. Getting hold of it isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s still there.

All you need do is open the Search charm from the Charm menu as we describe earlier. You can find it by dragging right with your finger or moving the cursor to the lower left corner of the screen.

Once you have done that, simply type Control Panel into the Search charm and there you have it, the Control Panel should be sitting in front of you.

The joys of conventional snapping have all but disappeared from Windows 8, meaning you can’t easily split your computer screen between two windows. Instead, applications now smartly scale to size, maintaining their core functionality while taking up less of the screen.

To get them to snap, there are again two choices. If you are using touch, simply drag your finger from the left edge to combine the two. Depending on which side of the screen you drag it to, it will snap to either side.

If you are using a mouse, then it is the upper left corner to get the app to appear, then again the same dragging process.

It might seem that shutting down your PC would be one of the most straightforward tasks in Windows 8, but it isn’t. The lack of Start menu makes the traditional shutdown route difficult, so instead, you are left with the new Windows 8 ways.

READ: Windows 8 review

Microsoft is obsessed with putting your computer into sleep mode in Windows 8, but that isn’t what we want. We want the whole thing switched off. To do this, open the settings charm we mentioned earlier and then simply click shut down. This will make your PC turn off completely.

Again no Start menu means that getting hold of a list of all your applications in Windows 8 isn’t as straightforward as you might have remembered it.

To get your list, bring up the Windows 8 Live Tile menu or Start screen and then click all apps. Alternatively you can type the name of an app into your search bar on the Start screen.

Applications you have downloaded from the Windows store can’t be closed, which writes them off from the start, but for everything else, there is a way to shut them down.

If you drag a desktop app from the top of the screen to the bottom, it will close. You can also swipe an app from the left edge of the screen out and then back towards it, in a sort of throwing away motion

The other option is to bring up the recently used apps widget, which appears if you drag the mouse down the left side of the screen. Right click on an app and then you can close it.

Windows 8: All the information you'll need