There are some things w/in Windows 8.1 of which you may not be aware but, should be.
1. Bottom-Left Corner... There is now a Windows logo button on the Taskbar. This acts much the same as the Windows key on the keyboard. Hitting it will give the Start screen & one can toggle back & forth w/ it. (Rather than hitting Enter, clicking the Desktop Tile or hitting Win+D to return to Desktop.
2. Rt Clk this same Corner will pop up the "Power Users Menu". This should be a real focal point for you due to value to you of the items listed on it. One of which , now is, Shut Down or Sign Out options (Sign Out, Sleep, Shut Down & Restart)
3. This one is BIG! Rt Clk on Taskbar > Properties. There is now in this windows a (new) Tab called Navigation. Please, look @ the selections & choices available here. You can have the machine boot directly to Desktop. Can have direct things to the ALL Applications screen instead of Start. And you can have the Windows button bring up the ALL Applications whilst on Desktop & the Win key or the Win button will toggle back to Desktop... in effect making so you can go to ALL Apps whist on Desktop, select an application & go back to Desktop w/out having, actually, left Desktop.
4. Remember, you can control any number (now) of Active apps from the "Switcher Bar" @ the Top-Left corner.
If the above is combined w/ the use of the Desktop Toolbar using & navigation Windows 8.1 is very efficient, direct & easy. Rt Clk Taskbar > Toolbars to enable Desktop Toolbar. This, also, means the Desktop icons can be told not to show; no need to cover up pretty wallpapers.
Finally, enable the Links Toolbar. This is found @ the same place as the Desktop Toolbar. Links is the equivalent of the Favorites Bar contents. One can open the Favorites Bar, add to it, close it and then access its web sites from the Taskbar via Links... the browser does not even have to be open first.
Put all of the above together & any perceived need for 3rd Party start stuff is eliminated.