I'm rethinking my approach to the Newbie site in light of the increasing number of viewers and options available. A tutorial on How To Use The Internet should not confine itself to the quirks of Internet Explorer.
So far, a lot of the criticism directed at the Beta Viewer seems to be along the lines of "It's all different and weird and scary! Make it exactly like the viewer I'm used to! Only more usable!" Not that there aren't valid complaints out there (I have a few, which I'll get to) but I really wonder about the guy who insists that the old-school pie menus are less confusing than the new context menus in the Beta viewer.
So, complaints first, then compliments--
The top "browser" bar and side tabs take up a little more visual real estate than I would like. The side tabs in particular are like a HUD you can't detach. It would be WONDERFUL if there was a simple clicky way to hide them completely and reveal them as necessary so I can see the world unimpeded.
Color scheme is at least a little classier than the classic brown-and-blue muck, but it would be groovy to have some lighter options.
Good job on making the sound controls so unobtrusive that I couldn't FIND the things until I read a FAQ update that explained where to look. (I'll get over that one, but sheesh. By the way, for those still looking--they're in the upper-right corner. That's also how to make the voice chat dot go away, by bringing up the sound settings and deselecting "Enable" next to the Voice Chat volume slider.)
I get why you decided to make profile pictures square now that you're using them as little sub-icons in things like friends list and chat window. But after all that tweaking to make my profile picture fit neatly in the 3:4 window, it's a damn nuisance to wind up distorted all over again. And I'm going to have to live with looking squishy in the profile windows of those who decline to make the switch. Sigh.
Things I do like:
The new context menus. It's an enormous relief to see all my options at once instead of having to click through to the dreaded "More..." to get to what I need and they're familiar enough to the average computer user to be more 'intuitive' than the pie menus were.
The tattoo layer! What a great idea--I know quite a few people who love their tattoos but have to sacrifice so many lovely undershirt-layer clothes in order to wear them. It would be nice to see how they'll look while still in the Appearance settings, but maybe they can fix that in future iterations.
I'm still getting a feel for the new IM window, but I suspect we might have fewer cases of "Whoops! Wrong window!" because of the changes. I also felt better about it when I realized it could, in fact, be detached and moved from the bottom of the screen to wherever I needed it to be.
How will it work for a complete newbie? I'm really not sure, since I'm so familiar already with How To Make The Thing Go, but it does look like it's a little more friendly to the novice. I'm thinking I may need to reincarnate again to see how the new life begins in the M Linden Age.