and the disapearance of many selection tools, it sure doesn't look finished.
9 has far better selection than 8. Once you learn to use it, 9 has easier selection than 8, a much wider range of selection capabilities, and within that range much deeper capabilities. The user manual does a good job of covering selection in many settings, and so do some of the videos.
I'm gonna have to read the manual
Yes, of course. 9 is different than 8. How could you learn to use it if you didn't read the manual? Videos help too.
By the way, it is a very good thing that 9 is different than 8. If 9 were not different than 8 you couldn't open 110GB in 1/10th of a second and pan and zoom instantly, like in this video and you couldn't do likewise with bigger vector data either, likein this video.
M9 is powerful of course, but zero intuitive.
9 is exceptionally intuitive, once you learn it. That's a very different thing than being intuitive for a beginner who hasn't learned 9.
The mission for 9 is to provide exceptionally efficient, low-effort, high-productivity, and intuitive workflow for people who have learned to use the product and who use it regularly. The mission is not to create a limited thing which is "intuitive" for beginners who will not invest time into structured learning.
After all, we're all clueless beginners when we start out to learn a big, new, rich and sophisticated package. If we have the common sense to learn the package in a structured way, spending a few days reading the manual, watching videos and trying examples, we only stay beginners for a few days. After that we spend years at the intermediate or advanced level.
There's endless interest in 9 in creating more efficient workflow and more intuitive GUI elements for people who have learned the product. 9 already is far ahead of 8 in that respect, much more intuitive for people who know it.
9 is more orthogonal than 8 ("self similar" as Tim put it very well) with an incredible ability to use and reuse what you learn in one setting in other settings as well. In contrast, 8 is far more special case: you end up having to learn as a special case various ways of doing things depending on their setting, even though the activities are different sides of the same coin. 9 implements such things so they can be learned just once and then done in a much more powerful, faster, and more flexible way in many settings. 8 is better than other "classic" GIS in that respect, but still, it is way behind 9.
By the way, all of the very best applications are like that, Photoshop being a good example. One reason Photoshop, Oracle, Visual Studio, and Mathlab all have a reputation for being wonderful software is that they provide intuitive and effective workflow for people who have learned how to use them, while being criticized by beginners who don't RTFM as not being intuitive.
Once you learn 9, if you think there is anything that could be done more efficiently or anything in the user interface that could make it more intuitive, speak up. Send in a suggestion.
Likewise, once you learn 9, if looking back there was anything you felt would have helped a diligent student learn the package more quickly, such as a missing topic, a video on a particular topic, or anything else, speak up. Send in that suggestion.
I write "diligent student" not because I think everyone should be perfect and never be lazy, but because helping diligent students learn more quickly is a realistic proposition, something that can be accomplished with better topics and videos. In contrast, trying to help people learn who don't read documentation is a much more difficult task. So let's do the reachable goal first.