The Start Panel
The Start Panel is for programs I use less frequently than the ones on my Desktop.
At the right of this panel there's a shortcut to My Documents folder, My Pictures, My Music, the computer drives, and the various technical utilities you may be using.
Most interesting for the moment will be the Search magnifying glass that enables you to look for files on your own. I have XP on my netbook and that is where windows places it.
In Windows Vista and 7 you will see a panel just above the Start button (where All Programs sits on this screen). Here you can simply type in the name of the file you want or the program you want to run.
It's an improvement, but I cannot be sure everyone has Vista or 7. It took till August 2012 for Windows 7 to overtake Windows XP in the desktop computer market. But XP still had something like 46% of the market share. Vista, by the way, had just 6%, and was overtaken by Apple.