My opinion on windows is that its poorly designed, and done by a company with no ethics. That they have back stabbed partners and users in the past. Examples of this are to numerous to name but a few are Stacker, Novell and Wordperfect, and the numerous security holes they call viruses. They call them viruses because its better than saying we have an operating system that looks like swiss cheese. I have been windows free since 2007.
But I will say that in the windows world betas are more polished , as said before because people expect more from something they are going to pay for. That said I prefer the Linux way where the end user reports bugs, and they are actually fixed most of the time.
But new Linux users tend to install the latest code, something they should avoid imho. The newest code is what is full of bugs. Most of the time the newest version isnt that big a step forward that a new user should take the risk of problems, leave that to experienced users. If your first step when finding a bug is to post to a forums asking for "any ideas" its probably a good idea to hold off on new versions for a bit.
I help a few schools with Linux and never install the newest version, always one step back. I also take care of my brothers computer, and while he bugs me for the new versions, its at least a month or two after release before I even think of putting them on his computer.
I will give Mint a big thumbs up though. After running Ubuntu since Dapper Drake, Mint replaced them as my favorite with Mint 10. I also think the forums here are more free for people to express opinions.