Google Maps borrowed the navigation controls from Google Earth and made the transition to Street View smoother. Just click on the small yellow man to see the street view imagery for the current location or drag the icon to the correct location.
Google Maps shows small previews when you drag the icon so you can adjust the position. Street View opens in full-screen and the mini-window displayed at the bottom of the map can be maximized when you want to change the location.
Google Maps will probably add a new tab for the Google Earth plug-in, so this change will make the navigation consistent.
Here's a screenshot from June that shows the old interface: