The first thing i wasn't aware of is Max is only for Windows. Sad news to this Mac kid. So not only would i have to get Max and figure it out, I'd also have to figure out how to get Windows up and running on my Mac. Note: Though I consider myself pretty computer savvy, i haven't touched Windows for well over 10 years.
There's a great piece of software out there called Parallels Desktop that allows me to run Windows (and OSX at the same time!) on my Mac. After installing that getting windows running was no problem (except for the fact my version of windows was dutch - as if windows wasn't foreign enough to start with.) Good ol' Google translator got English working and i finally got Max up and running.
Now, i gotta say it took me a few hours to feel kind of ok. A lot of the Hotkeys i use are the same from Maya (something i think they've only changed recently) so that's good. The hardest part is the way you navigate your scene (zooming, panning, and orbiting.) It's way completely different and just enough to drive you insane. Luckily the studio i'm talking to mentioned a plug-in called dRaster that basically makes 3ds Max work like Maya. I gotta say, it's getting a lot easier now on day 3.
There's still some little things i haven't figured out that bug me. The lack of something similar to Maya's Channel Box drives me nuts. Right now, to do precise # driven amounts, i select the key in the curve editor to manipulate it's value (seriously, there's got to be a better way.) Also i don't know how to select every keyable key and set a 'Key All.' I figured out how to select all and set a key, but that doesn't include modifiers (like facial controls, eyes, extra foot controls, etc.)
I just started a quick 100 frame test to see what the learning curve is, and so far, while a bit slower than i am in Maya i'm still producing pretty quick. I haven't edited in the Curve editor yet as i'm just finishing my second blocking phase, but i imagine that will slow me down in polishing... we'll see! Overall, i think after a week or two here i'll get the hang of it and be working at about the same pace.
I hope to have my first 3ds Max test up shortly for y'all to see