GNOME Shell is already quite different to how traditional desktop environments feel, and they're planning to mix things up again with some design overhauls for GNOME 40.
The GNOME development team blogged about some of the upcoming plans in late December 2020, which did look and sound quite promising. With the main focus being on the Activities Overview feature, which is where you access application launchers, open windows and more - the big overlay you open on GNOME. This is what shall be adjusted in their planned overhaul.
Expanding on this recently in a fresh blog post, the team showed off where they're currently at with this new design. Which you can see in action below, which they shared running from a Virtual Machine (work in progress):
They're keen to note that everything else is the same on GNOME, just the Activities Overview is seeing the revamp and even with this new layout it's "structurally the same as the previous version". It will also work fine with vertical monitor positioning and shouldn't cause problems for multi-display setups either and they even said they have "some ideas for how to improve multi-monitor support".
Why are they doing this though? Quite a few reasons actually. It's going to be a lot more customizable and more personal, you will be greeted with a more welcoming screen after booting up instead of a blank desktop, much improved touchpad gesture support, easier understanding of workspaces and more.
GNOME mention how this was done as a result of "6 separate user research exercises" and they shall be providing details of that research to the public in a future post. Additionally, they do plan to open it up to wider testing and an "intensive period of bug fixing and evaluation" before they have a UI freeze in "about a month’s time". Not long to go though, as their Roadmap is aiming for a GNOME 40 release in March.
What do you think to the flow and design changes?