I happen to like the combination of the "classic" Windows 98/2000 start menu and a the quick launch bar dragged out of the task bar and running along the entire right side of my screen (used to be on the left side before, don't remember why I moved to the right).
The start menu gives me a complete overview of all the programs I have installed, while the quick launch bar gives me one-click (no subfolders) access to all the folders, programs, utilities and most important documents I use every day (in total, about 40 small icons, lined up in some useful groups). I rarely use the start menu, but once in a while I want to see the whole inventory I've got there. I tried FARR, but remembering the keyboard strokes (or names) was too tiresome for me. I do, however, use a very small handful of AutoHotkey keyboard shortcuts for some programs.
Before Win 98/2000, I used the (buggy) Office quick launch bar. With W2000, I sometimes had the problem of the (Windows, not Office) quick launch bar "stuck" inside the task bar (moveable, but not to be dragged out). The only thing that annoys me now is that it's not possible to "lock" the quick launch bar in the position at the edge of the screen (only works inside the task bar).
All the "improvements" since Win XP seem pointless to me. It would be sad to see the full start menu die. Everything that constantly changes the contents by "recently used"/"others (click here)" or the like does not really enhance usability IMHO.