I remember the criticism of GNOME 2.x focusing essentially on 3 major issues:
1) The "spatial" file manager, with no UI to change it;
2) The file dialog no longer allowed keyboard editing the path;
3) The printing dialog lost some advanced options (the "<a href="https://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2005-December/m...">interface nazis</a>" thread).
The complaints died off after GNOME was fixed to address users' requests: the "Open each folder in its own window" option reappeared and was made the default and the file dialog was enhanced so that the pathname edit box would appear as soon as you start typing, with full completion.
I'm not sure whether the printing dialog has ever been fixed, but perhaps there are just too few Linux users who are passionate about advanced printing options. Though I was surprised to see control panels to configure Wacom tablets and even color correction, stuff that few professionals need, when at the same time GNOME 3 has lost the ability to set something as basic as the font size. Makes me wonder how the GNOME design process works.
> I bet the reaction really was not all that great and not all
> that different to what we are seeing this time around.
> Moreover, throwing money at the usability issue to purchase additional
> expert manpower will not solve the perception problem. Changes are
> disruptive...even changes that adhere to expert state-of-the-art
> usability design considerations. Because fundamentally the userbase
> really does not appreciate what is and is not good usability in the
> same way that those trained in the art and science of usability do.
Are the developers convinced that history is repeating itself and all the users complaining are simply being irrational? This is a very risky assumption without solid data backing it.
It could be that Linux users are indeed very conservative and change averse, but one should also consider the possibility that Gnome Shell may be a good fit only for a subset of desktop users.
> Experts in usability think differently about usability than untrained
> users do. And its far from clear to me that we as a userbase appreciate
> or even understand the value of usability experts.
The problem with usability is that it's an inexact science and anyone could call themselves an expert in the field. Why can't I call myself an expert too? Do usability experts always agree when they make design decisions?
The only way to verify whether a UI change was really an improvement is testing it with real users and see what happens. In the case of Gnome Shell, there are some similarities with the GNOME 2 transition, but this time around some people seem to believe that all criticism is bogus and will stop by itself if they keep ignoring it.
Here's my prediction: all criticism *will* eventually die off... but just because all the discontent users will have moved on to some other desktop out of frustration. It could be a small loss or 80% of the current userbase. Hard to tell without any data.
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