Case in point, my own first exposure to Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians was Stanley Sadie's 1980 version. I was preparing with other Music majors for one of our History of Western Music examinations, in particular, Professor Suzanna Waldbauer's infamous 'drop the needle' listening tests in the midst of a blizzard. Those who do not have a pre-CD/digital audio awareness may not appreciate how fun name-the-tune examinations used to be!
Whilst the Palisca and Grout History of Western Music was our central textbook with some additional support from Hoppin's Medieval Music and Reese's Music in the Renaissance, several of us were having a hard time distinguishing aurally between motets, virelai, madrigals, caccia, ballata, frottola. We would take turns just dropping the needle somewhere in the middle of the LP and try to identify the clip within a few seconds. Passing by our study room, Prof Waldbauer said (in her thick Hungarian accent), "Honey, if you are unsure, just go to Grove's and investigate. From there you can follow the bibliography and see where it takes you. Sadie has corrected most of the mistakes [particularly on early music]. Go to Grove's." Worried about the impending snow storm someone asked whether the listening examination would be cancelled.
Having grown up in rural Hungary studying with Zoltán Kodály and attending both the Franz Liszt Academy and the National Conservatory of Music in Budapest, "Zhuzhy" Waldbauer was not afraid of anything, let alone some snow. In characteristic style, she responded "don't worry darling, I'm sleeping here in the Department so that I can give you your exam."
In terms of this latest incarnation, there are some notable changes. There has been a complete revamp of the overall structure of articles. Previously, when searching for a particular composer, one might retrieve two valid results drawing on an article from NGDOM and another one from the NGDOP (if it was a composer who had composed operas like Verdi for example) or from the NGDOJ (if it was drawing its source from there). Now entries from these specialised Grove's are classified as 'subjects' which function as 'sub-articles' to the primary article.
Whilst structurally improved, content (IMHO) can seem unnecessarily more cluttered. The addition of OCM and the ODM have certainly collocated more digital content, but does it add any more value? It is easy enough to de-select/select these options to bring in/exclude their respective articles, but in the editor's own words, the new content will "supplement Grove's more extensive coverage with content geared toward undergraduates and general users." It is already an authoritative source and researchers of varying level can take what they need. I certainly did as an undergraduate and I do now professionally albeit for very different reasons. At the end of the day, I don't think their particular addition adds much more value to the online experience.
Searching across the interface, the Boolean operators and truncation wild cards are still the same. Symphon* will retrieve plurals and foreign spellings. One of the nice features of the new layout is the 'tab' setup between the primary article, works, multimedia and related content. The related content refers to other relevant NGDOM articles as well as to the other external content. For example, if your institution has a subscription to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography then there is seamless integration to pursue further information leads. For example, more information on John Lennon can be found in the ODB below.