My Start Menu has 7-8 pinned items at the top and I use the jump lists to access recent documents. The amount of time to get there compared to the bottom of the list is negligible compared to the time saved opening Word then loading from the Recent list \ Open box. Personally I hate taskbar pinning as it makes it look cluttered and makes it harder to see what's running and what isn't at a quick glance. Probably part of the reason I find the new Start Screen feels less productive for doing any real work (as opposed to one click app launches)
I was concerned about the lack of start menu, so when I moved to 8 I promptly installed classic shell.
That was a fortnight ago. I have pressed the start menu button 0 times. I've just never noticed.
Very different in a non-consumer application though.
Funnily enough, in that heat map of the Metro interface it grows downwards not upwards, so only a few items reach the green area.
I've been using Windows 8 for a few months now and can say that the furore over it is a little overblown. Metro is nice once you get used to it but the irony is I don't use live tiles, a few sit there to make the menu look pretty but I wouldn't miss them if they were gone since Metro apps are next to useless on a desktop. Calendar for example exists on my menu purely to provide the date on Metro and the PDF reader was swiftly replaced by FoxIt because it wasn't a full-screen mess. Pinning apps at the side is also a false economy when you can resize a window instead.
Right now my taskbar has commonly used apps pinned on the left, My Computer pinned on the right (use toolbars) and the system tray/clock. Nearly all my games are in Steam and launched through that so no need to pin them anywhere (but for some reason the Steam jumplist has shrunk to two games only:( ). The only time I use Start is when I can't find a program in my jumplists and this is where I have to jump into Metro and go through the Charm, Search, find app, Right Click, Pin routine. In fact, I don't even use Charms on a regular basis either.
Windows 8, perfectly good if you can ignore everything that makes it distinct from the rest of the Windows family. ;)
On a final note, I think this might be an effort by Microsoft to force users into an Apple-like ecosystem. Unfortunately for Microsoft, their tiles system looks set to be dead out the water if they don't make some serious changes to PC Metro before the hatred of it seeps too deeply into other platforms.