A recent email to the GNOME development-announcement mailing list has me excited: GNOME 3.12 is coming soon!
Specifically, the email announces the "3.11.92 release candidate" which is the "last stop before 3.12." Checking the GNOME schedule on the wiki suggests that GNOME 3.12.0 will be available by the end of March (around March 26). This is perfect timing for my usability test! I have planned to do my usability test around the end of March or beginning of April. Looks like I'll be able to do those usability tests with the new GNOME 3.12.
Update (March 26)
GNOME 3.12 has been released, right on time! You can find it on the Getting GNOME page. There's even a live ISO image that you can use to try out this version: "GNOME 3.12 is the latest version and will be available in distributions in the future. In the mean time, you can try our live demo image." I'm downloading now.
Update (March 27)
This was announced on Slashdot, as well. Slashdot is a technology news portal. It's interesting to read the comments, as it supports my previous conclusions about usability. From my usability test last year, the four themes of successful usability were: Familiarity, Consistency, Menus, and Obviousness. In reading through the comments on Slashdot, they echo the importance of these four themes. In particular, I see a lot of comments on Slashdot that perceive GNOME as lacking in Familiarity (it's very different from Windows or Mac) and Menus (menu actions have moved under "gear icons" and the application menu). So it will be interesting to compare this "group think" perception with the results of my own usability test.