KDE 4 vs. GNOME 3: An Early Comparison: Page 3

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If you are a long time user, this design should hardly matter. In the worst-case scenario, you can always search for the application you want. But if you want to find a specific application, the set up quickly becomes annoying. In fact, the GNOME Shell menu is so awkward that, if GNOME 3 includes panel applets, I suspect that a classic menu will be one of the first applets added.

Get Ready for a Change

Right now, deciding whether KDE or GNOME Shell is preferable would be premature. Much will depend on the polish and redundancy added for the GNOME 3 general release.

However, one thing is clear: both GNOME and KDE seem to be developing in roughly similar directions. Whether the reason is mutual influence or restless developers is uncertain, but with the free desktop having reached approximate parity with proprietary ones a couple of years ago, exploration in some direction seems inevitable for both.

What is less certain is how many users want the innovations being offered -- despite the undoubted ingenuity of some of the changes. How many KDE users fled the fourth release series for GNOME is uncertain, but, judging from anecdotes, it sounds like a sizable minority.

Yet, when GNOME 3 is released, GNOME will not only no longer be a refuge for them. Instead, GNOME 3, by virtue of its design, will heavily encourage them to interact in new ways with their desktop. It seems likely that, sometime in the second quarter of 2011, users will either have to change their work habits or else look beyond the two most popular desktops for their graphical interfaces.

How users decide will be interesting -- and, possibly, very, very noisy.

ALSO SEE: The 75 "Funnest" Open Source Downloads

50 Open Source Replacements for Really Expensive Software

20 Linux Apps That Make the Desktop Easier

Top 20 Open Source Apps for Windows

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