I came to 4E late, also, and deliberately avoided forums and online communities for more than a year while all the edition warring and hate was happening. I was running 3.5E and burning out on the workload when I decided to read Piratecat's 4E story hour at ENWorld. I couldn't believe how easy it was for a DM to create things that actually worked, unlike 3.5E where you could spend 4-6 very pleasant *hours* building a CR 20 stat block only to discover that a particular combination of resources your significantly lower level party possessed meant that it lasted less than a round of combat.(snip) I'll admit I was a bit ambivalent about 4e at first, but that changed after settling into campaign and seeing how things actually were in practice. Once I started running a campaign of my own I quickly could tell I probably wasn't going to run a 3e game ever again; 4e was just so much easier to plan and work with.
I'm glad to know that there are still other people who have interest in the system. I just don't expect there to be a large influx unless something really weird happens.
So, I sat down and built a CR16 NPC I needed for my campaign using the 3.5E rules. I then grabbed the PDFs of the 4E books and, in less than an hour, built the same NPC using the 4E rules while simultaneously learning those rules.
And that was it. 3.5E was dead to me.
Don't get me wrong, I loved 3.5E and had some of my best campaigns using it as a system (and I've been running D&D since 1981) but I got tired of the workload.
I still consider 4E as the edition that best fulfils the implied promise of the D&D we thought we were getting as teens in the early 80s: Big damn heroes going on big damn adventures. It's obviously not perfect, but it's the most cinematic edition yet.