It used to be clock-work to get new major Ableton releases, a pre-announcement in mid-summer, first betas end summer and the final version in the autumn time frame. This year it is different, no announcements from Ableton about anything so far.
Most likely the Ableton engineers have done a big rewrite, bigger than what they expected. So I would think Ableton Live 8 — or whatever the new Ableton version will be called — have a new paradigm in the UI, or even a new paradigm shift.
I’m not a beta tester for Ableton, neither have any inside information, so all this is speculation, based on looking at DAW application development since the early dawn of DAWs (I wrote a simple MIDI sequencer in Motorola 6802/6809 assembly back in 1983 when the MIDI spec was released, buy I’m no expert on this all.)
Ableton has announced joint efforts with Serato and Cycling (MAX/MSP.) The first has to do with DJ control surfaces, so I would think that there’s a new layer inside Ableton that makes it easy to hook all kinds of controllers to Ableton Live. The second has to do with the MAX environment where you could put together all kinds of synthesizer modules and effects. So I would expect that either you could run the MAX patches directly in Ableton Live as maybe have a limited way to re-route and reconfigure patches, where getting the full MAX environment would be the transition path.
Ableton has always had the dilemma that it really started as a sequencer/playback system for audio and it has evolved into a DAW recording system. But unlike Logic/Cubase/Pro Tools, the recording section is very weak, it takes a lot of efforts to put together environments such as recording multiple takes and so on. The MIDI editing is also weak compared with Logic. As the other DAWs have caught up to the elastic audio section Ableton had, even bypassing Ableton concerning the quality of elastic audio, I think they have to make a decision where to go. You can’t be a jack of all trades. The DJ people already scream about lesser and lesser support for their needed features such as multiple waveforms displayed at the same time.
I like working in Ableton Live, it’s like working with movie editing, but using audio instead of video clips. But I end up using Logic for the actual raw material recordings. And now especially with guitar-centric recordings I end up staying inside Logic for the whole production.
There’s also something limiting by just using loops over and over, it becomes a very stale production by having just loops.
I’m sure the Ableton engineers and product marketing has looked into this all — and they will come up with a surprise solution for us soon. As long as I have an easy way to move between Logic and Ableton, need better support for importing/exporting whole projects, I will be happy. But anyway, it would be good if they start mentioning about their new product soon, as the clock is ticking and new customers might migrate to other solutions in case nothing new is told by Ableton.