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I installed QGIS version 2.8.1-Wien on Win 8.1 but there is no start or desktop icon to run QGIS. I can only execute using OSGeo4Shell which give me a command com line and I type in qgis to run. How can I create a desktop shortcut

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The creation of shortcuts is the last part of the installing procedure. You can look out for the postinstall.log to see if anything went wrong with the installation.

Manually, you can search for qgis.bat with the Windows Explorer, and move that with pressed right mouse key to an empty part of the desktop. On relasing the mosue key, you can choose to create a shortcut.

Don't try to run qgis.exe from outside the OSGEO4W shell, it will not run alone.

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