Besides, the springboard UI is for tablets where the expectation is someone runs one app at a time. If they switch away from an app it's to run another app. It is not comparable to a desktop where someone may have 20 windows open and therefore their mental processes and context are built around that. I have no major objection to the start screen in Windows for tablets but this isn't what the thread is about - it's for the desktop behaviour.
Anyway I think it's remarkable how fucked up Microsoft managed to make it. I remember before Windows 8 came out being positive that they wouldn't walk all over mouse / keyboard users and yet that's what they did. Win 8.1 took off most of the rough edges and in general is an excellent desktop. It's just that disconnect between the desktop and the launcher still hasn't been solved.
Regarding your question, most recent versions of the start menu offered you multiple ways to access your apps. You could pin menus to start. You also saw a list of apps you used a lot. You could navigate all apps if you wanted. You could also start typing straight into the bar if you knew the name of the app. You also had links to control panel, to services, to devices, and run... command and power / log off options. And other stuff in a little semi transparent box which didn't stop you losing context of where you were.
Windows 8 offers much of that functionality but chose to smear it over multiple screens activated by swipes, hot corners, and other nonsense - is control panel in Start Menu? Haha no, it's that gesture on the right buried under settings and you won't even see it unless you are in the desktop at the time. How do I shut down? Haha we've hidden it! And so on. Windows 8.1 took some of the rough edges off (e.g. more discoverable shutdown) but its all over the place.
The only sop to the Old Way is Windows+X brings up a power menu, but it's basically its a hack that shouldn't exist if they just put something where the start menu used to be.
I don't think the apps are inferior or redundant to the desktop counterparts. The closest Microsoft got to an "app" in the past were gadgets and few people bothered with them and arguably all the apps in Windows 8 are better anyway. Even where there is a counterpart, e.g. Internet Explorer, the desktop version hasn't gone away. The metro one is obviously easier to use in tablet mode however.
The biggest bug bear is apps are treated differently in the UI and how they're activated. Windows 8.1 at least sticks them in the task bar and fixed alt+tab so they're peers of each other. It also put close buttons on top of the apps. Now it needs to house them in windows with resizing capabilities. At that point people can take them or leave them. Perhaps they could even allow apps to be docked in some sensible way or pinned to the background.
Anyway it should have never come to this. Microsoft clearly made a beeline for tablet land. It's understandable that they did but they seriously botched the execution and failed to anticipate the backlash. Let's hope they make good.
And if you REALLY piss people off then sooner or later someone is going to recall that excrutiating call with customer retention and post it up on the internet. And then the reputational damage will far exceed any benefit of being incalcitrant with departing customers.
If they took a page from the Comcast book they wouldn't take no for an answer and would methodically break down your objections until you relinquished and bought that large meal. Oh and you'd have a 12 month contract for large meal with a huge penalty fees if you tried to escape from it.
And many issues with LibreOffice are easy to identify just from using it. It needs to focus on fixing them and modernizing itself.
I think if I had to use Open/LibreOffice day in day out that I'd be pretty pissed off with it too. It's fine for simple things, but start using it for complex documents, spreadsheets or presentations and lots of little annoyances become apparent - resizing that doesn't snap to things, text that wobbles around as you type, dialogs which aren't prefilled with useful defaults, clutter in the menus and toolbars, inscrutable icons and menu items, lack of outline mode (navigator doesn't count), lack of useful shapes etc.
This project would benefit enormously from devoting an entire major cycle to usability where the goal is to simplify the UI, make workflows more task centric and give the software a makeover.