In Windows 3.1, we did the equivalent of pinning by putting the app's launch icon on the desktop or in a folder.
IIRC we had to keep program icons in "program groups" (folders, really) on the desktop, but couldn't put them directly on the desktop itself. We organized icons primarily by choosing which groups they fell into, but that was about it.
I worry that, like fashion, it's just change for the sake of change.
Based on what's been going on in the Linux desktop environment world (which seems to randomly swap ideas with Windows & OS X) that's probably pretty much right, sad to say. It's always a bad sign when the devs/sycophants can only defend the new designs by accusing skeptics of hating change (especially when said skeptics are new to insert_OS_here and thus regard everything as "change" at the moment).