Google has made it much nicer to view the maps and navigate to businesses and residential locations. On the desktop they have made searching much more intuitive. You can easily navigate to a location, and then from there you will be prompted to explore the area.
This is similar on how the app on Android was worked. Their new smart search integrates their information about restaurants. For instance if you Google your favorite restaurant you will be able to see reviews, business hours, and other information on the restaurant. This would be similar to the service that Yelp offers.
On top of that everything is wrapped up in nice windows that are grouped based on the results that you are viewing. Google Earth is now just a click away instead of having to install it. You can now select it like you chose street view before. There is an amazing tilt feature that allows you to actually tilt the viewing angle to allow you to see new perspectives now previously available.
If you do not like the new version of Google maps then you can opt out of the new version. This can always be done from the setting menu. Also if you sign into Chrome you will have a lot of customizable material. Get over to maps.google.com and take the tour to get a better idea on what the new features are and how to use them.