Windows has had hot keys forever and they still exist in Windows 8. For shutting down from the desktop in Windows 8 (and 7) the easiest way is select the desktop and press + then pick from the dialog's drop down list restart or shutdown or log out.
Also remember alt tab for switching apps and if you are using a mouse in the touch interface scrolling the mouse wheel does the same things you would do when swiping the screen with your finger.
SO when in the desktop and you want to start a program, hit windows key to get to start screen, then scroll with your mouse wheel to the program you want to open and click it to open it. The ones you use regularly right click them in start screen and pin to task bar.
Follow this advice and Windows 8 can be as easy to use on a mouse and keyboard system as Windows 7 (unless you want it to stay hard to use in your world.)
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