If I had to guess about the topic, I’d say “Not before WL8.”
I honestly don’t think The Powers That Be get it. Philippe apparently sincerely believes the online help is very useful, while Steiny/Yammy seem hung up on the print costs and don’t believe a well-written, illustrated, and cross-linked PDF replaces or improves on the online help system. If the corporate overlords recognized the problem they’d “announce” a manual was in the works to shut down these constant and loud complaints. Since that hasn’t happened, I can only assume they’re in deep denial.
As a new mac user, I can say I’d have given up on the app before the end of 2010 had it not been for the WL6 manual, which at least provided a decent overview of the platform, if not a useful reference to the current features. As you note it’s different enough that these things don’t line up well, even in fairly simple areas like disc burning.
I bought the app to see if I could use it for two classes I teach at UCincinnati, one in the College Conservatory of Music, the other in the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. In terms of features and functionality WL7 meets my needs and would be a terrific educational tool. But due to the extreme cost, and lack of a decent manual I cannot in good conscience require students to buy it. The manuals for Logic/Waveburner, Adobe Audition, ProTools, DSP Quattro and every other app I use include tutorials, illustrations, plus in-depth content on DSP and operations. Logic/WBP is not as good for doing mastering, but it’s miles beyond WL7 as a teaching tool, because I can require students to RTFM before they force me to demo simple, common functions. I don’t think Steinberg will sell many legitimate “edu” seats (though many advanced students will take advantage of the price for their hobby), because it’s lack of documentation is unique in it’s price-range.
As a mastering tool for my “day-job”, I’m rarely tempted to use it because I can’t fully grok the app through the microscope that is the online help system. When it came out there was a lot of buzz and interest. Since launch, that enthusiasm’s been damped in the field, as users figure out there’s no documentation for a really deep app. At this point there are no threads on the forums catering to audio pros that don’t mention this shortcoming.
IOW, I think the manual situation is going to pinch off sales sooner than later. Even so I don’t see Steiny/Yammy stepping up to the plate because they seem to be in complete denial that a problem exists. Without acceptance of the problem, there can be no solutions.