Heres my experiance. I have two machines that I use often. A laptop with Redhat Severn, which has gnome 2.2.x, and Mandrake Cooker on my main box that now runs 2.4. I have found the Gnome 2.4 desktop to be harder to use. Before Gnome 2.2 came out I used to use KDE for workgroups edition on both my machines. Here are the problems. I *did* report bugs, I *did* complain, but nobody listened to me, and when they did I got flamed by the feature police. And I will now tell you why I will be going back to KDE 3.2 when it comes out!
I won't be stating the obvious, I will be stating more deep and serious issues.
1) File-roller is harder to use.
In gnome 2.2, when you right-click a
2) Gnome Panel is now harder to use.
Although the simplified panel structure is easier to use, the configuartion dialog isn't. They have removed the Dropbox which has the sizes from X-small to XX-large (which is very intuitve, as it creates a metafor for sizes) with more confusing spinbox with the confusing "pixels" size (newbies don't know that their monitor is made of little dots, and may not get what a "pixel" is. The visual positioning box was removed by a more confusing drop box! The Foot icon (which is a violation of the HIG [gnome.org], Section 9.10, which says NOT to use body parts as icons (the picture is a G shaped monkey foot). They should allow easy configuation of the menu icon (as it used to in 1.4, and use a non offensive icon by default). The workspace switcher now has a limit of just 36 workspaces, compared to the 100 in gnome 2 and the infinty of gnome 2.0! You may argue people don't need that many, but when users are doing advanced work, and need to think in GRIDs and heirachies, very essential when working on large graphics and admistering multiple machines. I know some developers that use around 50-500(!) desktops when doing some SERIOUS work. I only use around 8-12, so this dosen't effect me, but others will.
3) Gnome harder to configure
More features, which EVEN NORMAL USERS USE, have misteriously dissappered. Either forcing them to use the atrious gconf-editor or flee to other CONFIGUREABLE desktops like Windows and KDE. Not to mention that "auto apply" is very dangerous, I've been burnt by it too many times already!
4) Epiphany is not ready for primetime.
The ability to add subtopics in bookmarks have been removed (not even AOL users are this dumb), its still VERY unreliable, and its not the mozilla engine's fault, its epiphanies. The documentation is only half written, and the download dialog needs a lot of usabillity work. Idealy, this should of been 0.9.4, but it seems obviously rushed.
I have other problems, but other people have already complained about that. The gnome team really need to have another usabilty test, and ask ALL types of users, from newbies, experts, designers, developers, architects, secitaries, managers and children to get the best of all worlds, not some Hypothetical "Joe Aol" (and aols got more features than epiphany anyway).
I have a lot of experiance in designing GUIS, with experiance in Visual Basic, Curses and Qt, but I'm only new to GTK, and the developers still have a lot to learn about good gui design.