Upgrading to 8.1 is kinda tricky. They try very hard to get your to sign in using a Microsoft Account. I'm not surprised that you didn't click the link at the bottom of the screen to create a new account. A reasonable person would probably think that wasn't the way to go. Clicking the create new account link eventually leads to making a local account. From there you just enter the login information for your current account.
Microsoft claimed that the whole Microsoft Account vs local account was too confusing for users so they had to bury the option.
Naturally the first problem you had was simply due to not knowing how to work Windows 8. Installing a start menu was like the good old days where someone would install Windows 95 but would replace the Explorer shell with Program Manager from Windows 3.1.
Now that you know how to split the screen between metro apps and the desktop, here's a guild on how to switch back to a local account.
I genuinely pity anyone who is stuck using this insufferable and highly unpopular OS.
I tried going back to 7, just to test it; but it feels so slow and clunky now. Windows 8 is amazing for speed. I'm not sure about gaming so much, I haven't played a ton yet. Mostly 3ds Max ,Pro Tools, etc.
Yeah, I find Windows 8.1 pretty nice. It makes me realize just how terrible the "classic" Start menu is. With the right settings, it's pretty much just Windows 7 with a full-screen and nicer Start menu. --- 3DS: 3780-9447-4574
There are settings not in the control panel? News to me. I'm sure there's some obscure ones...but the old control panel is there and works just fine, as does regedit. As people mentionned local accounts work just fine.
I don't even have a start menu replacement (how often do you really use a start menu? 99% you can do with windows key + R) and i forget I'm on Windows 8 even though i constantly switch between 7, Server 2008 and 8.1 between home and work.
People who hate on Windows 8 are like those old people who write checks for things instead of using a credit card. --- I make a topic in Final Fantasy 12 to ask if Tifa! They said no Tifa. Hardness gone!-gandob