After reading a short post at Shebanation I’m inclined to agree with Shebanow’s conclusion that consistence between applications is less important that consistency within them.
Shebanow discusses the decision by Adobe to place window minimize and close buttons on the right-side of OSX windows (a unconventional move) in creative Suite version 3. Shebanow concedes that the change may be initially jarring, but worthwhile if it allow for Adobe users to better use the overall application. The reason its OK, he continues, is a reflection of design guidelines being opened by diffuse, evolving Rich Internet Applications (RIAs).
The problem of adhering to, redefining, and ignoring conventional design formats is quite like the rules of writing. When does a useful metaphor become cliche? Some icons/symbols are culturally-specific idioms? The virtual desktop has more purpose that the hard-wood desktop for many– so how should this metaphor evolve. Just as language, graphic communication evolves, and partly so by the action of those using it.