One of the design goals of Unity is to reduce the clutter of the desktop, another is to use space more efficiently.
We hide the menu by default in Unity because the menu provides no useful information to which you can refer just by looking at it, but it puts a lot of detail on the screen which is visual clutter. So, we’ve taken the view that the menu is there if you need it (by moving the mouse to it or pressing Alt) but otherwise isn’t in your view.
Many modern applications are doing without a menu altogether, so in our view, this is a step towards the future, and it will encourage application developers to think about their interfaces and make them more usable by design rather than depending on the crutch of a menu.
The text above is a quote from Mark Shuttleworth is which he talks about the reasons behind the decision to put the menu on the top panel and set it to autohide.
Based on this, Ubuntu user Andrea Azzarone came up with an idea/mockup to integrate (with autohide) the menu bar in the title bar for ummaximized windows:
Something like this (but without autohide) is already possible in KDE:
In my opinion, the idea is great for two reasons:
1) Having the menu on the top panel, the mouse needs to travel a lot to get to the menu (this is a pretty big issue for some and it was brought up for discussion multiple times on the Ayatana mailing list). And since Unity will be default for the Desktop edition too, that means you can have a very large monitor so that distance can be huge. Having the menu in the titlebar would solve this issue.
2) The titlebar is pretty useless anyway and takes up a lot of screen real-estate for just the window controls and window title. And the window title will still be displayed since the menu uses autohide. Yes, they said they will implement Windicators in the window titlebar, but I'm starting to think that was just a diversion to silence the users about the decision to move the buttons on the left without any reason whatsoever (ok, I'm kidding here... partially).
But I guess there might be some other downsides I've overlooked (except for the most obvious one, also mentioned by Andrea - see below).
While the idea makes sense (if only based on what Mark Shuttleworth said), there are some potential issues that may arise using this: most importantly, how do you drag the window? Use the left button mouse for the menu and right mouse button for dragging? Add a new window control that allows you to move the window? Drag a window by clicking (and holding the mouse button down obviously) anywhere on the controls or other UI elements (except for the content area). I guess there are a lot of solutions for this, but one very simple yet functional "fix" must be chosen if this was to be implemented.
It will be interesting to see how this idea will be perceived on the Ayatana mailing list (where it was currently posted). But how about you? What do you think?