Blender 2.5 Alpha is out
Blender 2.5 Alpha has been released for testing. Why is this such a big deal? 2.5 includes the long-awaited UI overhaul! Blender's somewhat-crazy, non-standard UI has a reason and history that most folks don't know. But many try Blender, and give up on it, simply due to it's quirky interface. So it's currently a bit of a lose-lose, it's a hard yet rewarding UI to learn that hinders adoption. But to those that do learn it, they tend to find it to be pretty good.
Let me explain. Blender was originally written as an in-house tool for an European special effects and animation house. It's focus was entirely on making someone who already knows 3D animation and modeling as efficient and effective as possible, and not on ease of use or learn-ability. It was also written for a small, focused group of people with their own ideas and demands, for even after the parent company started selling Blender to other people, it was still a rather obscure tool that only a devoted few used. Later on, the parent company, that special effect house, went under and almost took Blender with it. But the original developers were able to raise the money to buy the rights and source-code from the Bankruptcy court, and they, in turn, made it open source. Which gave us a professional-quality open-source actively developed tool with a bizarre UI.
Old and Broken:
Fast forward several years, and the Blender team has re-written the UI from scratch, making it look a little more like Modo in the process, and adding the ability to animate anything, hook into anything, and configure anything. So far it looks like a real winner!
Teh New Hawtness: