Although the design of Maven is quite a bit different from the standard Ant project that everyone is used to, it forces a consistency upon the project that assists in maintainability and stability. No configuration settings are duplicated in any of the files, no libraries are duplicated anywhere in any of the subprojects, and each project is guaranteed to be built in the correct order.
As of this writing, Maven 2 is at the alpha stage. Maven 2 is a complete rewrite of the Maven project and removes a large amount of the scripting dependency that Maven 1 suffers from. There are quite a few changes between the two Maven projects, and Maven 2 promises to streamline the build process even more (the examples are unlikely to be compatible with Maven 2).