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Looking at random screenshots of OpenSuse 11.2 on google, I don't really see how you can call it low contrast. e.g first hit:
That has far more contrast than Windows 7, for example.
With the default panel, what exactly are you having trouble with doing? Which applications do you feel are in the wrong place?
I really can't see why people can't use the new menu. You just type the name of the app, and there it is. Far faster than navigating layers of menus.