I just pulled down a 2.69.8 candidate that has the new TABs for the tool panel.
Vertical TABs are really a bad idea, you can’t read the words when in that direction. It would be better if they were horizontal across the top and dockable (as icon or text). This implementation seems like a knee-jerk reaction to community complainers and doesn’t seem have a lot of thought behind it.
“Sure we can put wings on that car, but it doesn’t mean it will fly”