I just got back from CES, where I spent some time with Gary and Jeff talking samples, forums, music and life. I was also lucky enough to see the User Interface for the upcoming Garritan sample player...
The UI is super simple, great looking and likely very effective. In the main sample window there is a list of the instruments on the left and a picture of a stage on the right. Drag a cello onto the stage and you get a picture of a cello. Drag it left or right, and the instrument is panned. Drag it to the back of the stage, the photo shrinks (think Mac OS-X) and the volume/ambiance are adjusted automagically. So, instead of the two stage process of 1) assigning instruments to channels, and b) setting up the panning and placement, you accomplish both in one step. There was a separate window (or was it for the Steinway?) that provided a simple EQ/Volume/Pan/Width kind of control.
The UI looked simple and effective. Of course, if you want more advanced DSP, one would be able to achieve that downstream in their DAW. But for the person who just wants to make music, the UI would let you set the basics and just play.
I asked about GOS2 (I'm VERY interested), but Gary is holding his cards to his chest, until he sees what is announced at NAMM. Apparently he has some nice technical tricks up his sleeve. I did confirm that GOS2 would include many of the techniques used in the Strad and the cello. Of course, that only confirms the obvious.
To cap off a great show, I flew back to Portland in the seat next to Jeff Hurchalla, where we talked about music and much, much more. I only hope he enjoyed my company a tenth as much as I enjoyed his. (And I hope the light rail got him home over the frozen tracks!)
I can't wait to hear the news from NAMM - and Gary's announcements afterwards!