The way Gtk+ and GNOME put icons everywhere has always bothered me. In menus, such tiny icons are only clutter, and don't appear to give any useful information. When it comes to buttons, they have the nasty tendency to completely mess up things like button size, button text alignment, and they make buttons "unstable"; icons carry more visual weight than the text, mentally toppling buttons over.
The new GNOME release will do away with icons on menu items and on dialog buttons. The exceptions are menu items which represent a dynamic object such as applications, files or bookmarks, and devices. This obviously means that the GNOME panel, as well as the panel menus, will still show icons for their items.
The end result? These few shots clearly show the benefits:
What is as of yet unknown, however, is whether or not this will get a GUI checkbox so you can switch back to the old behaviour. Since there are talks of removing the "Interface" tab from the Appearance tab altogether, it's unclear where such an option would go even if they wanted it in. Else, it will be a trip to gconf-editor.
I personally welcome this move, but I'm sure many of you will disagree. What do you think? Is it a good idea to remove these icons? Should there be a GUI option? A lot of discussion can be found in the related entries in the bugzilla.