So you think that Max is difficult?? Well, you are right and you are wrong.
Learning a new package can be difficult but I believe that if you can navigate the interface then you have solved half the problem already.
3ds Max interface is a combination of the new ribbon as well as the old drop-down menu.
Like AutoCAD it also has a workspace setting to change the look and feel of the user inerface.
You have the following settings in your workspace.
As you can see there is a constant in all of these workspaces. The Command Panel on the right-hand side of the screen.
This panel is used to create objects as well as modify them including objects, sketches as well as lights.
I personally have not changed any of the user interface settings as I find that the default gives me enough information for using it just as a renderer for my Inventor Assemblies and parts.
One of the commands that I find are the most useful when creating assemblies in Inventor and then rendering in 3ds Max is the move, scale and rotate commands. These are used to position your model in relation to any new objects you will create in your 3ds Max scene eg. ground plane.
The modify tab is also used quite frequently to change values of the objects created like the name or colour or size.
The Scene explorer (docked on the left hand side) is used for selecting objects. as well as filtering through the scene visually by selecting objects like lights, materials or layers that the object is associated with.