MS does spend millions doing UI research. I would question whether they are approaching that correctly though. It seems to be focused on where a completely untrained user looks for things, on the assumption that the place they look is the "intuitive" location choice. I think that's false, and I think the fact that MS keeps moving UI items around release after release because new research shows people look there, is an indication that they are dealing with more randomness than intuition.
This entire discussion is centered around a giant false-dilemma fallacy. There are three choices going on here, and people are only discussing two of them.
A: Switch to the Ribbon
B: Keep the old, cross-app and cross-platform standard menu set
*C*: Have an option for both.
A: Switch to the Home Screen and remove the Start Menu.
B: Keep the Start Menu and ditch the Home Screen.
*C*: Have the Home Screen, but allow the Start Menu to be turned back on when in desktop mode.
If *C* wasn't such an easy option and such an obvious miss, a bunch of people wouldn't feel so confused and annoyed by these decisions.
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