Re: Hyperbole Much?
"A fancy graphic on their birthday (hint: once a year) or on a special occasion (a significant date that's tech/geek/science/education related) after which it reverts to its minimalist interface?"
For me, it's not that the minimalist appearance has changed much; but rather the delay incurred by number of scripts the Google homepage loads before becoming stable enough to receive input.
In particular, some change they made several months ago, causes a script to run once the page is apparently "fully loaded" which steals the focus from wherever the cursor may be and jams it into the Google search box. So when I bring up a new browser window with Google as the homepage, then begin typing in the browser address bar, after some random delay--say between 0.5 and 3 seconds-- (presumably affected by local caching, net congestion, and Google's server load) the Google home page "finishes loading" and the script runs and the cursor jumps from where I was typing in the address bar, to the google search box. Resulting in a nonsense "search" consisting of a portion of the URL I was trying to type in the address bar.
I had used www.google.com as my homepage for a full decade, because I liked its minimalist fast-loading nature (and I didn't mind the occasional goofy novelties such as the playable Pac Man game.)
But as of last week I switched my homepage to a local google.html file which is an instant-loading, script-free version of the Google homepage. I don't get "search suggestions" anymore while I type, but nothing steals the input focus while I'm typing, either.