Search is a great feature! Having a mouse and clicking around a GUI browsing for files was the most gimmicky, mouth-breather way of launching programs that added nothing for users. If you want something then just type it, it's faster than hunting through and clicking ever-expanding menus trying to reveal what you're looking for. Not only that but I don't need to rely on different operating systems having all the items in the same place, for example if I need mouse settings I just search for it and whether it's Windows 7, Windows 8 or OS X it gives me all the mouse-related items. I can do it with programs too so I don't need to worry that somebody may have organized their programs or files differently to me if I use their computer.
This also works on phones, I know where I put Safari on my iPhone but I don't know where it is on somebody elses so instead of hunting for it the more efficient way is to search. I could just browse for it but search is quicker.
Power users can go further than search and do things like scripts that copy lnk files from the start menu folder (yes it is what drives the start screen in Windows 8 too) to a directory that you add to your PATH variable so you can just launch any applications directly from the command line without having to remember where they are. This is great for when you have to work on a different system where things aren't where you expect them to be.
You can still put things in sensibly named and organised layouts if you prefer, and you can create shortcuts to things you need and place them in the most appropriate locations. I'm not sure where you get the idea that you cannot do that anymore.