How do you define "the right direction"?
Seriously, these discussions usually deteriorate into rants about the desktop or choice of applications in the default install.
I'm more concerned about other long-term developments. I suspect that what we see is a result of the influence from a new generation of developers raised in a computing environments where application restarts and even system reboots are acceptable solutions/workarounds for a problem. This "Microsoft legacy" affect the entire ICT industry and FOSS has not been able to escape. Ubuntu is infected just as much as any other distribution. The sad result is that the reliability of a modern Ubuntu, Fedora or any other distribution is no match to their predecessors 10 or 15 years ago.
This goes beyond reduced reliability though. Troubleshooting gets harder as many applications that previously had debugging facilities built in via tty i/o (stderr/stdout) no longer offer any such help when there's a problem.
It's also nearly impossible to say anything about the state of a system when the boot-process has been completed. Slapping a pretty image across the screen to hide startup-details from the average user is one thing, but diagnostic info has suffered too. Today there's often just a mess of badly formatted information behind the pretty boot-image where init-scripts and system processes previously presented useful information for system administrators. Following a crash or power-outage, systems may be thrown into recovery-processes that take hours on the next boot with little to no feedback.