> The way we use our desktops today is actually very different from the way we used them 10 or 20 years ago
I am literally using the same interface today that I have been using since I adopted E16 11 years ago. I'm using the same theme with the same modules loaded and the same gkrellm. So, that's 10 years there. The only difference is that my resolution has gone up a lot.
20 years ago it was a bit different, but I was also on a radically different OS at the time; in 20 more years I plan to still use Linux or its spiritual successor.
I don't see any significant change in how we use desktop computers coming and I don't see one in the last decade. What we do with them may change but not how we do it.
> We now have web browsers that basically have their own built-in window managers and manage each page in a separate process. Why? Because people want to have dozens or hundreds of tabs open at once and our desktop environments can't deal with it.
FluxBox solved this problem with tabs at the WM level, it's just too bad there wasn't a spec everyone could implement. Every time an app tries to make the WM be a WM (e.g. GIMP) people ask why the app isn't being the WM. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned about what people want.
> Our email apps have sprouted contact managers, calendars, to-do lists, and the like. Why? Because we can't build seamless apps out of mix-and-match separate specialist components well enough to make that a sensible approach.
All attempts to build a system of such components has failed, GNOME's attempt included. KDE was more successful, but even they seem to have de-emphasized user-defined apps based on throwing kparts together. I'd love to see it, but I'm skeptical about how possible it is.
> When we expand our desktops to keep up with the way we actually use them, we're also going to have to rethink the interface. I don't know if GNOME is going in the right direction, but they're right to think that what we have isn't good enough.
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater isn't helping, especially since there is not yet an agreement on what (if any) problems exist.