Whether you recently updgraded to a new device, or are a first time user you may find Universal Search to not be for you, and would rather have your application shortcuts back. Universal Search is helpful to some, and a pain to others, but luckily changing from one to the other is quite a simple task, and can be changed in just a matter of seconds.
To take control of this, from your home screen you will want to press menu then go to options. In the options you will notice the first option will be "Launch by Typing" and by default it is set to Universal Search. Simply click the drop down and change it to Application Shortcuts then save your changes -- just like that you are now able to launch your favorite applications via their shortcuts from the keyboard. If you want to switch back to Universal Search, just do the same and reselect the option, no reboot needed to save the changes so you can easily manage this at any given time.