Windows 8 on a desktop PC has been driving me crazy ever since the preview versions. I've been trying really hard to give the "modern UI first" philosophy a chance to grow on me, but it hasn't. If I were using a Windows 8 tablet, like the Surface, I'd be fine (the swipes and hot corners are actually quite tablet-friendly) but, on a conventional PC, it is brutal.
On a conventional PC in a virtual machine -- either with a screen to itself (in a multi-monitor setup) or, worse, windowed -- it is completely awful because the mouse usually has somewhere to go beyond the edge of the screen, making the corners especially tricky to hit. I realize that this isn't how most people experience the operating system, but I do (99% of my Windows usage these days is in a VM)... I don't think that this fundamentally changes the problem, it just makes it more painful.
So, what to do? I've had enough. Clearly others have, too. Thankfully, there seems to be quite the industry around restoring decent desktop behavior to Windows 8. I purchased Stardock's Start8 application, but there are plenty of others, too. All I can say is: if you use Windows 8 on a conventional PC, run -- don't walk -- to get a start menu restoring application like Start8! The usability difference is night and day.
It isn't just the start menu, of course, there are other subtle tweaks done by these applications, but the overall effect is to make the experience far more productive. I don't mean that in the fuddy-duddy sense of "Windows 8 is different, therefore it sucks" -- I really think that it is quite an advance, but they made a horrible misstep by basically forcing everybody to have a tablet-like experience even when it makes no sense. On a large screen, the full-screen "Windows 8 style" applications are humorously inappropriately sized. If I were to spend any significant time using them, I think that I'd seriously look at something like ModernMix to fit them in a window, too.
As I mentioned above, Stardock aren't the only game in town. I just happened to have a history with the company (all the way back to using their OS/2 products -- boy, that was a long time ago!), so it was the obvious place for me to shop. Your mileage may vary, as they say.