I have been a Linux user (only using Linux) for about 3 years, however when Gnome Shell came out, it sort of coloured my opinion of the Linux desktop. Unfortunately, at that time I only had a netbook (Asus Eee PC 901), and it was not especially good at running a larger DE like KDE. So, I was stuck using OpenBox.
Fast forward a few months, to the beginning of January, I decided finally to get a better laptop. I found a Zoostorm laptop (It is now no longer for sale) which has a i5 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD for £400 (without windows on), and bought it. This left me with a problem. Using OpenBox on it seemed like a waste of resources, so I looked around for another distro. I tried OpenSUSE, but found it was very difficult to install the wifi driver (it is quite a new not very popular one), so I went back to Ubuntu, for the first time since 10.10. And I tried it for a while, but despite how much power this laptop has, it still felt slow.
So, with the knowledge that Ubuntu based distros like the driver (it is a simple make, make install (SUSE and Fedora have different kernel development packages, and too newer kernels (The driver I have only supports 3.5/3.4/3.3))), I looked around for one. I found elementaryOS.
I tried elementary, however the lack of customisation annoyed me. The attitude of some of the people working on it also annoyed me ('not many themes out there look as excellent as the default.'). While I do not mind people saying that they like their work, and are proud of it, using this as an excuse to lock people into your theme I see as unacceptable. Also, many of the applications were lacking features I use, so I gave up on elementary.
By chance, on this day, my LinuxFormat magazine arrived (Issue 167) (at the end of january), and it had an article about Mint. Having been distro hopping for the past year or so, I thought it might as well try it. While I liked GNOME 2 (The fork of which is Mate), Cinnamon intrigued me, with the ability to customise it very deeply while still having all of the good stuff of GNOME Shell. So, I installed it. And I was blown away.
The speed is one thing. Compared to Unity, on this laptop, Cinnamon is incredibly fast. It is very customisable (for example, the panel and themes and icon themes can be customised without needing and external tool, and it just works how I want it to. Pressing the Meta key does not cover the screen and move my windows, it makes something come up to load applications. Alt tabbing does not put all similar windows in one group. And the choice of panel applets and ease to make them is amazing.
An example of this would be when I made a arduino based light for my desk (A bunch of super bright LEDs), and I wanted a way to turn them on and off by clicking a icon on my panel. With Cinnamon, I just looked at a few tutorials, and looked in the src for some of the applets, and made one in about 20 lines of code. Simple.
So, I want to say thank you to all of the developers. You seem to have created a desktop environment (or whatever cinnamon is classed as now) and distro which is quick, customizable, while still has all the features I would have expected in 2013. Thanks.