Conclusion: Illustrator remains hugely powerful, and a tool that is reliable, fast (as long as you have a good amount of RAM), and pretty much vital to any creative pro. The new pattern creation features are a joy to use, and the speed of this version alone will impress any daily user of the app.
Pros: Slick new interface. Fast! Powerful pattern creation tools. Better bitmap tracking tools. Gradients on strokes.
Conclusion: In short, this is a very good release. However, it's a very important release. It's important because Adobe took the time to update and revise some code that had gotten very old and very stale. It's a new engine under the hood and that lets Adobe do a number of things that have been sitting on the "to do" lists for way too long. People often compare Illustrator and InDesign and say "hey, why can ID to such-and-such but AI can't???