As per usual people are upset at how Wizards of the Coast is marketing their Essentials lineup, with the majority shares of animosity directed at their "desperate retro labeling" in hopes that lapsed and butthurt edition diehards clinging to their outdated, out of print games will rejoin our ranks. 'Cause, you know, it's good business practice to dump a shitload of time and money on a fraction-of-a-minority gamble. As has been said over and over again, Essentials is for current, new, and (potentially) lapsed players, not hypocritical grognards who keep their heads in the sand and seem to believe that any innovation outside of their own houserules is an affront to the hobby.
For example, take minis. There are the guys that bitch about how D&D uses apparently obscure implements such as battle mats, markers, and miniatures for managing combat despite the fact that every other edition did so as well (I myself owned a shitload of Ral Partha minis "back in the day"). On the other hand, some like to prattle on about how powers in 4th Edition are "too samey" (by an imagined standard) and that you "just button mash at-wills", disregarding the fact that most (if not all) characters in older editions had one attack that involved a straight d20 roll and only differed in the weapon's damage die. Make up your minds; is it okay or not? You can't negatively criticize it in one edition and not the other.
The developers at WotC aren't stupid. They know that the only way to get the "old school" guys back into the fold is to release--unedited--the same game they already own. Of course no matter which edition they re-release fans of every other edition are still going to be up in arms, so logically they have every incentive to go for what's best for the hobby, which is to say forward. Squatting on dated material fraught with clunky, unbalanced, nonsensical rules is not good for a game company. You need to innovate, which is what the designers at WotC have been doing for the past 10 years. You might not like it. You might like a game where wizards render other classes obsolete in the span of a few levels, where classes cannot do what it was purported to do, and where you can randomly die for no good reason due to one bad die roll.
That's fine, because the game has continued to evolve and I'm glad that you're not a part of it.
Having played Basic and 2nd Edition, I can say that yes, Essentials does provide a somewhat nostalgic experience. The classes have mostly fixed abilities gained at fixed levels, knights and slayers lack the variety of attacks that fighters do, warpriests are melee-oriented (whereas clerics can opt to use ranged attacks), thieves are thieves, and there's a random treasure table in Rules Compendium (which I've been using in my current game without creating some kind of game mechanic singularity). The difference between Essentials and any other edition you care to name is that it looks like an enjoyable game, and I wouldn't be upset to play in an Essentials-only campaign since there is a lot of flexibility and variety in that little book.
I read on another blog that someone believes that they used the classic art from the original red box because, and I'm fucking serious, "that's when the game was it's most popular," which is a pretty delusional statement considering that if the game was doing so great in the past, then why did TSR flop? Why didn't WotC just sell the game as it was after picking it up? Why did they move even farther away from 3rd Edition with 4th? I suppose WotC just enjoys wasting time and losing money on such an unpopular game. I'm sure if they went back to basics they'd be rolling in profits, amirite? Another person asked why they, "don't give people what they want?" They are. The majority doesn't want what older editions had to offer, which wasn't much. We want a fun, accessible, balanced experience that doesn't punish or push away newcomers.
Have fun with your little "renaissance".