If you know me you know my opinion of Mike Mearls and his butcher job of D&D 4th ed. 4th ed is in my opinion a good set of really detailed skirmish rules which are not as good as the much better Warhammer Quest and Descent Journeys in the Dark etc ad nauseum. Its Bloat-ware meets skirmish gaming.
How Mike Mearls got this job I don't know. How he has kept his job after Paizo Publishing and PATHFINDER gave his D&D Fail edition a spanking, I just don't know.
Thankfully Hasbro/Wizards got Monty Cook back who does have some real D&D cred and the Bruce Cordell who does great work on his books.
Just go and try find out what great outstanding rpg product Mike has made. His Gimmicks guide to Gadgets showed an appalling lack of Mutants and Masterminds system understanding and a lack of general comparability with the core Mutants and Masterminds rules. His other land mark products were the Alderac Entertainment Group D&D stuff which was really quite pedestrian/ordinary except for the d20 Toolbox which was really very good ...but which he did not work on. Just so you know the list of works the guy did before the landmark D&D Fail Edition go have a look. I'm really not sure how he got the big gig for Fail Edition.
So D&D Next - stupid uncool name by the way. I say build off of what is essentially Basic D&D, Labyrinth Lord and Swords and Wizardry, and some sprinkles of AD&D. Look at the proliferation of house rules people have compiled. It looks like people out in the OSR like things like
Fighter options - i.e Feats for fighters
Easy and few, skills maybe even on a D6
No demihuman level limits
Shields which shatter
Optional alternate spell system to Vancian
Just go google fu "House Rules" and you will get a great list with a large consensus of applications. If shields don't shatter in the new edition you will know they did not browse OSR blogs, as this one rule is nearly a ubiquitous house rule.
If you want to see the sort of thing people want from a serviceable game outside of D&D go look at D&D 3.0, Savage Worlds and BRP. In the framework these games provide for their systems there is a lot to learn.
Bring back a focus on the story telling, the role playing and the emergent game actual play at the table over character optimization mini games .
And Hurry up Wizards !!! Your fast becoming irrelevant, with the OSR and Pathfinder I dont NEED a game with the D&D label on it - You need to show me that I do ... Or I'll go on playing stuff I call D&D but is not your product.
If OD&Ders and other folks can do this in a few months and get it right, why is it taking you so bloody long to get it right?