I took a look at the Alpha6 and these are the noticible differences to 8.10.
New login screen
I think it's pretty hot!
New Notification System
Mark Shuttleworth talked at length about the new "out of your way" notification system. It's definitely better looking than the old one.
As you can see in this screenshot, the new system includes a notification icon. This notification is that Pidgin needs some setup. It was kind of confusing that I had three icons (Pidgin's notification area icon, the new system's icon, and the user switcher icon) for a single application.
Totem has some cool new plugins. It has uPnP capability installed by default, Jamendo playlists, automatic subtitles, and the ability to turn the current playlist into a DVD or VCD. These plugins make A/V networking and backup a simple matter.
Writing a DVD is as simple as using File > Create Video Disk ...
Although it doesn't appear functional at this point.
Brad Sucks is my favorite Jamendo artist, so I searched for him. I'm not exactly sure why this plugin duplicates Rhythmbox functionality (RB is dead, BTW .... more on that in a later post). Maybe GNOME will move toward a single player.
New Brasero Interface
Brasero has a recent projects pane.
The F-Spot Sidebar Bug and Add-ins
The awful bug which causes the F-Spot sidebar to be completely hidden (zero width) hasn't been resolved yet (though the fix is in Trunk). I've dragged it out a little in the screenshot in order to show you that it's really there.
Export filters exist for quite a few online services.
New Ekiga Interface
Ekiga 3.0 has a brand new (an long awaited) interface makeover. It now shows important things like availability. Go, Ekiga!!!
There was a bit of an outcry when OO.o3 didn't make the cut for Intrepid 8.10, but there was no problem getting it into Jaunty 9.04 -- though there was a lot of trouble integrating it ... but that's another post.