I spent a few weeks using Windows 8 to fully understand it, and I got to say, the fullscreen menu is the best thing I ever used, I'm talking about productivity only. Tiles are stupid and the overall experience is bad but we don't need to start this discussion.
You can always learn from your competition, so here's my suggestion for the Cinnamon menu:
- Let the user decide how many rows/colums the "pinned" icons have and also the icon size (without scaling down when you add more, if the menu can't adapt the height them just don't allow more items than possible, or auto append to another column)
Did a quick example:
This have zero impact on the "casual classic desktop experience" since it doesn't change anything unless the user want and make the changes. The full experience would be an option to make the menu fullscreen, I can't even imagine how beautiful it would be combined with the upcoming features like bump maps. You could also integrate file search on the fullscreen menu like Windows 8, but let's not get greedy.
Not that you guys need any advice from me but I just want to say: don't make the mistake of revamping things too radically or breaking the whole paradigm. If you ever had an idea that "could change the way the world will experience the desktop" (I only hear that once a month), make an opt-in feature, just don't shove it on the user.