I've been using Linux Mint since Elyssa.
Avoiding Windows malware AND obnoxious virus programs was such a relief that for a long time, I was overlooking some lacks in Mint.
Lately, Mint has achieved such a high degree of polish that whenever it gets reviewed.... there is very little for the reviewer to say, except it's very good!
However, this degree of polish doesn't extend to the Software Manager. It's better and friendlier than Synaptic, but it's still kind a jumbled haystack of things.
It needs some work.... maybe a complete rethinking.
The thing is, as it is now, Linux Mint is a very good Swiss Army knife... it's a good general purpose tool, but it takes the availability of the best application software to turn it into a more specialized tool.
And I understand how Clement and team tend to be cautious about apps, since they can break things, but the availability of popular apps is one reason end-users even come to a particular distro. For instance, I used Firefox and Audacity on Windows before I migrated to Linux Mint, and knowing those were available for Linux meant the whole transition was a lot less unsettling than it would have been, since my two favorite programs were waiting on the other side to meet me!!!! Knowing LibreOffice was feature-rich and comparable to Microsoft Office was a plus too. I also chose Mint because it was Ubuntu compatible, figuring that there would be more software available.
I think something has to be done to make more and better apps available to Linux Mint users.
The thing is that the communities that Linux has serviced to this point has been corporate servers and programmers (and hackers!
There is a natural tendency to have apps to support the needs of those communities.
However, I think there needs to be steps made beyond that.
For instance, in competing with Microsoft, Apple made a strong decision to cater to the needs of creative people- musicians, artists, and writers. This strategy paid off, and gave Apple a loyal base that helped them survive.
I think a similar thing needs to be done by the most important Linux distros.
Target specific communities, starting with the most popular programs first. At some point, there needs to be a willingness to accept the idea of paid software. The smaller the number of users, the less contributors there will be, and to ensure quality, something needs to be charged to support coders and testers.
Another idea would be to focus on application communities. If an application software project looks healthy, is writing high quality (and Mint compatible!) code, and has ideas that show great potential, something needs to be done to support those projects. There might be something to be said for similar design philosophies and even geographical proximity which might help for conferencing.
One simple thing would be to try to guarantee that any program worthy of being "featured" in the featured software section isn't more than one version behind the latest version of that software. With Mint 17, I was having problems with Firefox, but I don't trust Google enough to try Chrome or Chromium. So I tried several small, fast, light browsers that didn't bog down my older computer as much. One got some good reviews, but had some problems with the forum software of a user forum I use. I reported the problems, but they really weren't that interested in supporting the (two release old) version that was in the Mint Software Center... maybe they'd already fixed those bugs. Well, I don't know how to recompile yet, and I couldn't help them. Could you blame them? How interested is Mint in supporting Maya? I mean, yeah, it's LTS, but I see signs the passion really isn't there. Linux application projects are not big projects either.... they don't have enough people to be able to afford to focus much on the past versions.
But then, in offering two-versions-old software in the Software Center, Mint is basically asking users to use software that won't get supported by the writer. That's not really a good idea, either. So a potential user of those programs is "caught between a rock and a hard place".
BTW... Scribus (Desktop Publishing Program) is in the Featured section of the Software Center. I was reading the reviews, and one of the first reviews said it was two versions old. I quickly lost interest after the experience with the browser's support team.
I'm at the point where I'm thinking of asking software projects whose apps I am interested in if there are any distros whose repositories have the latest version of the software, then running it in a separate partition.