maybe soon will be defined (roughly probably) by Michael's AMD slides. cross your everything.
since that new core was planned for vista it should appear pretty soon on windows. and since ati/amd tries to keep things in sync between arches and systems it might come fairly quickly on linux as well.
so i consider current fglrx drivers an soon-to-obsoleted codebase branch that is receining bugfixes only.
what about the new control panel? well i don't think that the driver api will change that much. external apps probably will still work.
Vista has the new opengl driver since January. Windows XP and Linux will get them later. If the new article by Michael is ever going to get online, we may know some new things. I can't wait, I hate waiting ^^ ... no wait, waiting is beautiful, but you only see it this way after things get released.
I guess waiting another handful or so of months won't be TOO bad. I just wish they'd fix the performance issues- I don't care how or with which driver codebase they choose to do it with.
Regarding times, see: http://www.michaellarabel.com/?k=blog&i=147
If AIGLX isn't supported by the end of this year, I will quit using ATI/AMD graphics cards. Is that enough of a statement? :D
If someone is shopping for a graphic card and wants some features, he/she is better to buy a card that supports the required feature now instead of another card that will or might support-it sometime in the future.
One thing is sure for now, if you need uptimum performance, on par with what is available under windows, AMD is not the company to buy from.