I'm Steve and am new to Mint (13 w/MATE) and could not be happier. I've never gotten excited about an operating system before, but the Mint team has really hit this one out of the ballpark! It's just what I was looking for.
I've been using PCs since the mid '80s (with DOS on an 8088 box when I was a college freshman) and have been through all the iterations of Windoze from 3.1 through XP SP3. I switched to Ubuntu in 2007 after XP crashed & burned, ironically while downloading my first copy of Linux(!) I could not reinstall or recover Windows beceause somehow my (corporate) product key had gotten leaked onto the Internet and subsequently blacklisted by M$.
Ubuntu with Gnome 2.x did everything Windows did, but better and (much) faster. I dropped Windoze like a bad habit and have never looked back.
With the advent of Unity however, Ubuntu totally lost its appeal to me even without considering the performance hit. That big ugly docky thing (barf!) on the left that could not be moved or customized significantly (and could only have certian types of things put on) it was heinous at best. It was like an ugly-duckling copy of Apple's noob desktop. OK, maybe I just have too many years of using a traditional desktop environment, and I do understand Canonical's reasoning (though not their execution), but there was no way I was going Unity. XFCE was OK but kind of bland and not that flexible, and KDE is, well, KDE, so I stuck with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS w/Gnome 2.x until support ended last month.
After reading all the great reviews of Mint and researching the MATE vs. Cinnamon differences I finally downloaded and installed Mint 13/MATE last week. (I'll give Cinnamon a try at some point too.) Installation was incredibly simple. (Despite 20+ years of using computers on and off, I'm no guru or "power user" by any stretch, and my command line skills are basic at best.) Setting up and customizing the desktop was as simple and intuitive as it gets. Little things like separate theming and styles of the main menu were delicious icing on the Minty cake. MATE is all the things Gnome 2 could have been and more. Mint also boots and shuts down much faster than Ubuntu 10.04 did, which is a big plus in my book.
I could go on and on, but the Mint community knows the rest. Speaking of which, the community & its website are fantastic and I hope to find a way to contribute.
THANK YOU Mint developers, for keeping the traditional desktop alive and growing!