I've been experimenting with different desktop environments and window managers for a while now. I've been a long time GNOME user. Earlier this year when I decided it was time to upgrade my main installation from Linux Mint 11, I was in a bit of a pickle as to which desktop to run. I tried Linux Mint 13 Xfce first but that gave me some problems (probably from me doing stupid things) that I switched to Linux Mint 13 MATE instead. A safe choice for a long time GNOME user
I had been considering KDE as well, and though I like KDE I don't like the amount of configuration I have to do to make it meet my expectations and it is a bit slow to boot on my system. Other desktop environments and window managers that I tried mostly didn't click for me usability wise.
MATE is very stable, but it continues to have some annoyances carried over from GNOME. Most noticeable when opening files as root, or when opening links from my feed reader in my web browser. For both actions you get this entry in your window list that it is opening the file / link you requested. That entry takes multiple seconds to go away on my machine, while the file / link has been opened and in some cases already closed
So while I was happy to use MATE from stability perspective, it had some annoyances (to me) that made me continue to look for another desktop environment.
Last week my music player stopped being able to output sound, so after a brief struggle (upgrading/downgrading packages) I decided to just upgrade to Linux Mint 14 MATE and be done with it--figure out which desktop environment to switch to later. That didn't go as planned. MATE on Linux Mint 14 had some graphical glitches--probably due to my hardware (I have a bit of a problematic motherboard with more recent kernels)--which I didn't manage to solve easily. So I tried Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon instead. What a change of pace
It is much faster than MATE, and everything just works!
I had tried Cinnamon before on Linux Mint 13 (both 1.4 and 1.6 release), but at the time wasn't happy with it yet. I can't believe how much it has advanced--stability, usability, performance, and feature wise--in just 6 months. I'm exploring right now, as I've had it on my system just since Friday, but I can already say I've found my new home