I have to admit to not really trying it. Although I followed the initial thread for a while near the beginning.
But you were asking about veteran Maya Max users and their experience of Blender as well.
I realize these things are so subjective. The main reason I decided to just get down and learn the default was because of an experience some years back where I needed to pick up Softimage very quickly for a job. So I went with the Maya mode which is what felt most ( normal ) and although it saved me some bother early on. I think it caused far more problems down the line than was worth it.
The default Blender navigation has become 2nd nature to me now though and I find it really fast and fluid to work with. I’ve grown to love it. This is after very many years of working with the other main stays obviously. I had a commercial Max license on subs for about ten years and it was my core app for a long time for any freelancing solo work. Now I currently work in house with Blender and Maya side by side and jump between them all the time with no problems at all.
I’ve encouraged anyone I know personally who wants to learn Blender just to try and spend some days to really get used to the default first before trying to change anything. In in my experience it works out alright when you are used to it. It also makes following books and tutorials much, much easier.
I also used to hate learning hot keys and I still do. But I found I only actually needed to pick up a few to get going with Blender. The rest I just could use the drop down menus. They reminded me a lot of Softimage. Also I find in Maya I use drop downs far more than icons. Unless it’s something I’ve put on the custom bar that I reach for a lot.
One other thing I have found about the default key map though that I find quite interesting. It seems very easy on my arms wrists and fingers. I feel much less fatigued working with it for a long time than I do with more traditional set ups where my right wrist shoulder and index finger can feel quite a bit of strain. It feels both my hands and arms are moving around in a more balanced way. But I realize this could be a very subjective and personal user experience. I guess also I really like the fact that something out there has actually been trying something different.
This is an area which has interested me much more in recent years. Office chairs are slowly killing us but about 99 percent of CG artists are probably still sitting in them. Get a move stool and get into active sitting. Break with convention.
I also have only been seriously working with Blender just over three years. So although I’m not really having problems with the current key map right now. If any improvements can be found, and going for something more towards the mainstream is generally considered the better approach then so be it. But I do think its probably better as an open community wide discussion and effort.