"The sheer simplicity of the Classic is unequalled". Well said,I often wonder where the need or the cause for a change in Windows comes from.You'd like to think there is some underlying need or reason to complicate an otherwise straight forward process.I guess there might be or not.
This post goes to both you and the original poster.
People still use the old start menu?
The XP-style menu is simpler than the classic for a big reason; the commonly used programs feature. Vista's goes a step further with its integrated search. WAY faster than dicking around with the sliding menus. Type "ca" in the search and the first option is "calculator" which is very probably what most people want when they type "ca" in there. "no" gives notepad. And so on. Very quick for programs not on the main pane/common used programs of the start menu.
You have to remember, the reason you like a certain interface is probably because you are used to it. Your comment of "I often wonder where the need or the cause for a change in Windows comes from" seems to prove this point.
In order to analyze new interfaces without bias, you have to understand this point. You will very quickly realize the places in the new interface that bother you, but you will be completely unaware of the places where it's much faster. THAT is where the need to change comes from. Making routine tasks more efficient, which you don't even notice.
I don't know how you could, without bias, tell me that clicking;
is better than;
start>type "ca" and hit enter.
It's even worse for defragmenter;
start>programs>accessories>all programs>disk defrag
start>type "def" and hit enter.
The difference is astonishing. I'm baffled why anyone still uses the classic start menu. Using the search box is faster, every single time. Unlike the menus, the speed of launching doesn't depend on how deep the program is in the start menu.
I agree with microsoft's decision; the classic start menu deserves to die. The newer style is far more efficient.
I just really don't understand how someone can say that slogging through menus every time I need a program is faster, cleaner or simpler.
Of course you can add programs to the main pane of the classic start menu, which could emulate the commonly used programs feature. But you can ALSO add programs to the main pane of windows vista/7's start menu permanently. That point is moot.
As for the taskbar, I agree to a certain extent. For some programs, it makes no sense to group windows. I think the main goal of the new taskbar is consistency. It goes back to the taskbar's original goal with windows 95; window switching. The quick launch toolbar, while well-liked, is not consistent with the taskbar's primary function.
By combining launching and switching, the taskbar is more consistent.
Besides, most of the people that would be bothered with the new "group everything" function of the new taskbar use alt-tab switching anyway, which still exists in windows 7.
Going back to what I said earlier, though the new taskbar might be a little more annoying in a couple ways, there are other ways where it will be way better. Jump lists look promising, for example. The fact that the taskbar can be changed back to the old style is also a plus. I imagine microsoft will eventually kill the old style taskbar like it killed the classic start menu.