we all know just about every grade school kid on up knows how to use the start menu.
That's nice, but the grade school kids aren't in the corporate environment. Most people I support don't have a clue how the Start Menu works. If it isn't on their desktop, then it does not exist. Shortcuts and pinning are the only way for them to be able to launch applications. Even for pros anything beyond a handful of applications can make the Start Menu difficult to navigate quickly. Search and easy to get to icons are a good solution.