Oneiric: The Nightmarish
Unity Panel: Global Menu
When Unity debuted in April's Ubuntu 11.04, it came with a controversial Mac OS X-style global menu to replace the traditional menu bar. While the global menu's behavior changes slightly, it is not for the better. In Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), Reviewed In Depth, we used the screenshot below to demonstrate how a global menu can cause confusion when using multiple instances of the same application.
Notice that the window controls for the currently-focused window are highlighted while the others go dark. Although we felt this wasn't a good enough solution, it was something. Unfortunately, in Ubuntu 11.10 all window controls are highlighted. The screenshot below depicts the same situation as the one above, but in Oneiric:
Now there is no way to tell which window is active, and which global menu is being manipulated. In order to use the correct menus, you first have to click on the window you wish manipulate just to be sure you're on the right one.
While the appearance and navigation of Dash are improved since Ubuntu 11.04, there is still no meaningful way of customizing it. What we want to see in future versions on Unity is a customizable home screen of user-defined shortcuts and applications, or simply a Favorites Lens. A way to add custom launchers, which was present in GNOME 2, is also remarkably missing from Unity.
Two uTouch gestures fail to work in the real world: two-finger scroll in Dash and two-finger tap in the Launcher. The sizing of menus in the Panel and the window controls are insufficient for touchscreen-only control.
Even though we exposed the global menu's reliance on hover as Unity's Achilles heel on slates in our last review, it still exists, hover-reliance and all. In a purely touch environment, there would be no cursor to position over on-screen elements, therefore, no hover.
While there are many positives in the attention to detail in Oneiric, there are just as many negatives for the lack of it.
While the obfuscation transparency of the new Dash is certainly pretty, look closer at Dash's outline.
What's going on with all these lines? Don't they seem overly intricate, and just unnecessary? Now look at the Dash window controls:
Speaking of choppy on-screen elements, take a look at some of the application icons in Dash and the new Ubuntu Software Center:
The larger icon size in Dash and the Ubuntu Software Center emphasize some of the downright ghastly third-party app icons.
Alright, so that's Ubuntu 11.10. Now let's see how it performs versus Windows 7.