I don't know what kind of usability impediment you're talking about? To be honest, I'm kinda tired of hearing this, because it seems to come from people who never really used Unity. I have extensively used KDE (v 2), Gnome (v 2), xfce4, Unity and now i3. I tried Unity simply because I was puzzled by the conflicting arguments. Power users complaining so much, while newbies were raving. I thought I would test drive it for a month just to see, I ended up using it for a year. Unity isn't perfect (no graphic environment is), but it does have its highlights. Most of the essential functions are documented in the cheatsheet that appears when someone keeps the WinKey pressed.
In my opinion, most power users who complain never took the 2 minutes required to understand how that desktop works and presumed that all they had to do was to plug in their mouse and click away. If they'd taken the time, there would be less complaints, since Unity is rather keyboard centric. Newbies on the other hand thought "let's learn Linux", read the manual, and came out ecstatic.
Not being able to use the programs installed on my computer?
That seems like a pretty big usability impediment to me. I have a Unity and non-Unity laptop. The problem that Unity allows less than ten apps on the side. It's true that I can search for the things - but that requires me to know the name of the many oddly named Linux apps out there. And yes, I've spent more than minutes, in fact I've spent days using and attempting to customize the thing.
The screen mechanics are ghastly also imho but I could learn them if, like, the GUI let me actually run my installed application.
Sure it works as a kiosk or those who just start a shell and leave. But if you're really using seriously, why pontificate about it.
That is the primary method of using it, it's not the alternative.
The problem that Unity allows less than ten apps on the side
For one you don't need to know the name of the program, you just need to know a few keywords about what it does. e.g. type in "brow..." in the dash and see it proposing Firefox and other browsers you may have installed. In case you still have no idea what your program does, nor what its name is, you can still navigate to find your programs the old fashion way, using the dash and filters. I would assume that after using a program once or twice a user can either drag its icon to the side or simply remember its name. And if they do neither of those, the dash keeps a history of most frequently accessed programs. While using Unity I had 3 icons on the launcher and I _never_ even used them, and I run many apps at once.
This is the first I've heard of Unity conflicting with a program and that might be a bug in one or the other.
But if you're really using seriously, why pontificate about it.
Since many are pontificating against it, I think people deserve to be exposed to counter arguments. A lot of people have taken upon themselves to decide that Unity is this and that, without even using it properly. They spread fud as truth, instead of disclaiming it as their own opinion. And frankly when you see the arguments, it is obvious that they haven't used the thing for more than a few minutes. It just strikes me as odd that people would keep doing this when there is ample evidence that the GUI is positively received by most people who give it a chance. If you don't believe me, ask System76 or Zareason, after all their business is directly tied to having people satisfied after they buy a linux box.
OS X does the same thing. It has a launcher on which you pin the most used apps and for everything else you need to search it with Spotlight, or go to the Applications directory in Finder. I haven't seen many people complain about the usability of OS X in this regard. IMHO, the Start menu is a broken abstraction.
As for the UI and that bullshit on being optimized for tables ... I actually like that Unity is so space efficient. For example, why in the world would I need a window top bar, if the window is maximized? Vertical space on 16:9 screens is precious, Unity optimizes for it and I find that to be awesome ... like, one of the reasons many people like Chrome's UI over Firefox is exactly because of this, yet Unity brings this design decision for all apps.
- remove cascade style start menu.
- quick search interface for application, files.
- well organized keyboard shortcuts and inline shortcut help
- make free vertical space as possible as
- it's simple. users only need to understand windows key, left launcher.
Yes, It was buggy and slow at the first time. Maybe Canonical had pushed so much earlier. But it's now working well and really usable.
The UI is optimized for tablets and phones, but not because of space efficiency. In fact, Unity is less space efficient, because it demands that the launcher be so huge (to afford touch-based interaction). In every DE I've ever used, I actually hide the top/bottom panel, but that's not possible in Unity (the top panel affords no customization whatsoever, AFAICT). So, in practice, Unity is consistently less space-efficient with my vertical space than every other DE, in addition to being less customizable.
Having a single menu for all apps at the top of my 1920x1080 screen was a usability issue to me.