Indeed true what you say, but listen up, what separates mint from every other linux distro, including ubuntu, is that it is so COMPLETE.
It has pretty looks, codecs and everything you need pre installed. But while ubuntu still is clinging on to this 700mb limit, why cant mint do something a little different than being just a better version of ubuntu?
Listen up, mint team. Go DVD! Where ubuntu refuse to think in those lines, this might be a area for mint. Mint is more and more like OSX on mac, and thats what mint should aim for. User-friendlyness to the fingertips, with a complete OS that has everything you need. Gimp, inkscape, blender, openshot video editor, avidemux, audacity, XBMC media center, lmms, scribus, mypaint, google earth, skype, a FTP-client like filezilla, cheese webcamapp, sunbird, kompozer, glipper and desktop areas at the taskbar, maybe even calibre for ebooks and add back some games, preinstalled in a complete OS package that has EVERYTHING you will ever need by default. Maybe even TOR as default with the ability to fire it up with vidalia in the menu, plus OTR encryption by default in pidgin. And ad a big amount of cool fonts for use with gimp, scribus or openoffice, its lots of it on the net. I think its a mistake to try to mimic windows with its limitations on the default setup, windows users will have no trouble understanding these benifits in linux and will be positivily surprised. It could be like a free open source alternative to OSX that covers all aspects a user can think of, user-friendly to the fingertips. Why buy a mac if you can buy a cheap PC and install mint for free that has EVERYTHING with a few clicks? I see no application that has this now. It doesnt matter if noobs doesnt use many of the apps, but if its preinstalled, a noob might discover and start to use some of these great freeware apps and thereby increase its use and encourage to even further development.
I always install all the mentioned applications, but for a newbie he might not even know it exists and want to go back to windows to use adobe illustrator because he does not know of inkscape and the fact inkscape is just as good.
Oh and BTW, one option i miss in mint that ubuntu has, is the ability to right click on the menu and automatically add it to startup. Gthumb should also be the standard image viewer.