@cbae: I just don't see any point in trying to pretend the complaint is about a pinned list of things and not what was actually "removed", all that does is change the complaint from "The Start Menu was removed" to "The Start Menu and all that unnamed chrome around it was removed".
I was just getting started when you chimed in. My point is that nothing has been removed. What? No Start Button? Here it is:
And "All the unnamed chrome around the Start Menu"? You get to this by right-clicking on the Windows 8 "Start Button":
On a sheer functionality scale, all the Start Menu (my definition) actually does is provide a way to select something to ShellExecute, which clearly hasn't been removed. The complaint, whether unwarranted or not, is about how functions are exposed and not what they are.
It goes beyond simply what is exposed. Besides the obvious complaint about aesthetics, one major complaint about the "Start Screen" or the "live tile screen" in Windows 8 is that, while it's organizable, it can become cluttered, unlike the nicely-organized Program Groups in Windows 7.
This is when the complainers are comparing the wrong two features. The Program Groups in Windows 7, which you can get to by clicking "All Programs", has its analog in Windows 8 when you right-click and click "All Apps". While having to right-click before clicking "All Apps" adds a mouse click, the Program Groups in Windows 8 don't require drilling down. It's at worst a wash and at best a far better experience in Windows 8 IMHO.
As for the live tile screen becoming cluttered, that's an issue with installer programs pinning too many shortcuts to Start. Regardless, the multi-select menu of the live tile screen makes it trivial to unpin multiple items from Start, which you can't do in Windows 7. You can easily make the live tile screen as austere as the Start Menu image that I posted earlier. The reason my Start Menu in Windows 7 is so austere is because it's so useless as a single, unorganizable list of shortcuts. I just as soon use the Program Groups, even though it's a PITA to have to drill down to find anything.
But the ability to group pinned items and the ability to rearrange them in Windows 8, which you can't do in what you call the "pinned section of the Start Menu" (that in actuality is the entire embodiment of the Start Menu), makes this, again, at worst a wash and at best a win for Windows 8.