Among those I myself would only only need two (sound & .NET Framework) to have a "fully functional" desktop experience.
Right, desktop feauture is a must for me, and .net framework is a must for you, and other features is a must for others. Without those certain features installed, windows server installation is actually incomplete.
Of course a big "advantage" of Windows Server without DE is the ability to boot straight to desktop, but the drawback of such approach is the lack of many essential components that are present in Windows 8 (by default).
As a matter of personal preference, I'm not ready to boot straight to desktop by loosing desktop essentials. The way out of metro for me is via 3rd party tools I mentioned. = Classic Shell+StartIsBack.
Sure. Most of us (power-users) prefer the classis startmenu. But when I change the system from W7 to W8 I guess I will use my methode in combination with classic shell.
I'm with you on that. I've never understood why would MS deprive their power users of the handy classic start, forcing them to use the client 7-like menu instead. Now they've taken step further and gave us no menu at all.