As you may already know, Windows 8 replaces Windows 7's Explorer buttons with the ribbon, essentially spreading over multiple tabs what you once may have gotten to in an easier way.
For some people having the Copy - Paste buttons readily available isn't much of an advantage, but having the "New folder" button, amongst other things, is, but the thing is you need to expand the ribbon in order to access them, whereas in Windows 7 you just had those buttons there all the time in an interface that used less space.
You can however get your buttons back, and then some, with the Quick Access Toolbar, which is a customizable, slim toolbar, that can be located either above or below the ribbon. In it you can place whatever function, or even group of functions you want from the ribbon. This allows you to save lots of screen real estate, while at the same time retaining all the functionality from Windows 7, and then some, as you can add whatever buttons you want. It doesn't allow the option of having text subtitles for the buttons, but in any case, for those that don't like the ribbon, this is a very useful feature.
To put buttons from the ribbon on the Quick Access Toolbar, just right-click on them and select "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" (see picture below). If you want to put a whole category of buttons (which will be grouped as a single button you can click to show all the options), just right-click on the category you want (Clipboard, Organize, New, Open, Select, Send, Share with, etc). This option (as of the consumer preview, maybe they fixed this in the final version, I still haven't checked) is not very straightforward as the buttons don't show that they are expandable and they might show an icon (or, in one case, no icon at all, just a clear button) of one of the icons of that category, which, together with the fact that it doesn't show it's expandable, might be misleading as to what it is for.
You can't put the Quick Access Toolbar below the address bar, just like in Windows 7, which I would find more efficient in the sense that it's closer to the files you're working with, but nonetheless, it's a useful feature and allows you to keep the ribbon minimized, while keeping its functionality.