DnD Next is really can't decide if it is taking aim at expansion or just trying to recover the players who used to be. I find their overall strategy somewhat bizarre because when reading their strategy it is super clear they are trying to expand the game and make it easier to get into. Old DnD was really tough to get started on unless someone else introduced you to the game because it was extremely complex and expensive to begin, not to mention being somewhat incomprehensible to most people who haven't seen it in action. Next is going to have a really simple starter edition and free online materials in an attempt to make it simpler to recruit new folks into the game.
The marketing is clear: Get more people involved and make DnD Next into a mainstream game. They don't want to just be for nerds anymore and they know that they are competing with MMOs and other computer games that really weren't competition a couple decades ago. The landscape is very different these days and the company that runs DnD is focused on being really aggressive in setting themselves up to succeed, which I don't recall TSR ever doing effectively. The new strategy really seems to be to create a new market rather than simply to service a market that exists.
All that is true until you look at the game mechanics themselves. The game isn't a new one, designed to appeal to a new generation. It is the old game with a big facelift. Now most of the changes that were made to the old game were good ones so at least that is right. Spellcasters don't get totally ridiculous at high levels, the amount of system mastery required to be a good character is much less, and things are laid out in ways that keep people on the straight and narrow in a lot of ways. There is plenty of freedom to be terrible as always but it feels like the balance is much better.
Unfortunately it is still too much of the old game. The magic system is a bizarre reimagining of Vancian casting that nobody wants except that it is kinda like the way it always has been. Many classes have choices that are far too few in number and end up with no way to change a character that isn't feeling quite right. Thugs are still super trivial in strategy and design while casters have constant streams of interesting choices. The designers obviously felt that they were shackled to the expectations of the old fans.
So the marketing department is going off to brand new and exciting places while the game design team is mired in supporting the nostalgia of the grognards. Running off frantically in two different directions is not the way I would like things to be going if I were directing them from the top. Pick a thing and be good at it - either rebuild the old game and package it for the old players or build something new and great and sell it to the masses. Doing both at once seems like a recipe for disaster to me.