No, I didn't play 1.0 from start up to shut down. I kept paying, and logging in here and there to see how things were progressing, but once ARR was announced I really toned down my playing.
The consensus you're referring to is wrong, mostly because they're basing things off of video instead of actually trying the game. People who say that ARR has no change (or isn't "much different") from 1.0 clearly aren't paying attention. You probably don't hear much on the other end of things because people who have gotten to play ARR aren't allowed to talk about it. Who wants to ruin their chances at getting into beta to convince people who have nothing better to do all day than trash talk everything SE is doing to repair the game? You're basing all of your assumptions on a one-sided look at how things are progressing.