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For easy access to the Settings pane, memorize the Windows key + I shortcut. (That's a capital eye, not a lowercase ell.)
The Settings link at the top of this pane applies to the program you're using when you press it. If you're at the Windows desktop, the options include the desktop Control Panel, Personalizaiton options (themes, colors, and so on), and System Info.
Use the icons at the bottom of the pane to change the volume or adjust other system settings. The More PC settings link at the bottom of the pane takes you to the simplified Metro style control panel.
To jump straight to a specific setting, use the Settings option with the new Search. If you press Windows key plus W (think "Windows settings"), you get to this screen, with the correct option already selected.
The Windows 8 Customer Preview includes a new program switcher that appears along the left side of the screen, you can use the mouse to access it (aim at either corner on the left side, then move the mouse toward the center of the screen.
It's easier, though, to use the Windows key + Tab shortcut. Note that the new program switcher treats the desktop as if it were a single app. It does not show individual desktop programs. The next screen shows you the alternative.