why is XFCE ignored?
Not against MATE / Gnome 3 with Gnome shell, but surely would like Mint LISA with gnome 3 and MATE released as dev / preview release, not suitable for new windows converts / end users. Invite users to install and give feedback, probably a new sub forum / or atleast a thread relaasing all issues in those releases. New users simply download the latest version available and they search for documentation when in emergency (typical end user approach).
It is good to adapt new technologies, but if you are focusing on end users and windows converts, then, i feel, even update packs / service packs (e.g. Ubuntu 10.04.1, 10.04.2, 10.04.3) of LTS versions should be updated with latest softwares and corporates and end users should be encouraged to use LTS.
The challenge is to convert / attract windows users and not
frustrated windows users. People should use Linux as it is better than windows.
Distrowatch or any other online method like facebook like, twitter follows, +1s are far from accurate. I tried Ubuntu as my first Linux and after gnome3 and Unity saga, and their anti - slogans
, I went to distro watch for the first time after 1 1/2 year (ya I am an end user) and checked some other distros first being mint. Downlaoded a few ISOs. Since most people install Ubuntu as first Linux Distros, they will never visit Ubuntu on distrowatch, except they come from google.
So not closely following online tools is my idea for Mint 13. popularity is different from actual users.
Best is registration / activation key, that gives devs accurate hardware and distro states. I hope people do not mind sending these stats when they are using it for free. Just like Clem did it when he pushed opera into repos before releasing Mint 12. or maybe he must be already collecting data, while issuing critical updates. To sum up:
1) XFCE as default DE (can offer meta packs of pure gnome 3 / gnome 3 with cinnamon / MATE (tweaked for mint) with a script that only loads defauilts apps of DE being logged into, unless user specify an app to be available in all DE e.g. k3b should be avalable in all DE, but thunar should be available only if you log in to XFCE.
2) Release gnome 3 / gnome 3 with cinnamon / MATE as developer or preview release and later upgrade it to stable version. No need to follow self sweared / imposed rule to issue new version every 6 months.
3) Collect authentic data like hardware, software used and DE immediately after installation (Clem may be already doing it)
4) Keep track of stats from online resources like distrowatch, facebook, twitter, friendfeed, google +, etc, but not give too much importance to stats based on them.
Just my 2 cents.