Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
The last five years of user revolts have left Linux desktop users wary of innovation. Too often recently, "innovation" has meant unwanted changes imposed without any consultation by developers upon users. As a result, Linux desktop development has become cautious, avoiding major changes that are visible to users.
One sign of these times is that many users are voicing the opinion that this attitude is a good thing. They talk dismissively of change for change's sake, and regard GNOME 2 with an awe that it never received during its heyday.
However, if unrestrained change is undesirable, such conservatism seems simply its extreme opposite. Even granted that most experiments to improve the desktop will fail, some efforts at innovation seem desirable.
Here's what we might expect in the way of changes in the next couple of years on the main desktop environments: