"What I find perplexing is why MS should think that there is only one way that users want to interact with MS applications, and that MS know what that is, and that MS can make major changes to that User Interface (in new versions) that will have no impact on the productivity of users."
Actually, they spent millions of dollars and several 1000 man hours *asking* people. they'd make a mock up, test it, keep and develop the good bits by mocking them up and testing them again. I'm sure there were people like you who didn't like the changes and wanted the toolbar, menu and feature bloat to continue, but they are actually a very small an incredibly vocal minority comprised mainly of nerds and know-it-alls. For instance, it took someone who had never used word (they do exist!) over a minute to find the "Find..." tool in a vanilla installation of Word (Micros~1 have the figures to show that the vast majority of users *don't* customise the UI), with the Ribbon(TM) interface, it took 3 seconds. Are menus more efficient? No. The impact of the new interface is in real terms negligible; a little bit of bellyaching, perhaps the odd dummy or toy spat out, and within weeks they are *more* productive.
Websites that "...**still** only cater for older versions of IE." Aren't worth visiting and not because of the 'pretty, pretty, shiny, shiny' reasons either. One has to ask if the product is that important, and that useful, why isn't it maintained to work with current standards?