So at http://martesmartes.blogspot.com/2013/05/killall-plymouth.html I ranted. How about something positive: XFCE. I blew away MATE, LXDE, etc., on my office 32b LUBUNTU 12.10 system and replaced it with XFCE. Now I'm running 64b Xubuntu 13.04 at home (at boot it still thinks it's Lubuntu): uninstall Mate, uninstall LXDE, install Xubuntu, and do an in-place upgrade to 13.04.
LXDE was pretty solid, not annoying little bug after annoying little bug like Mate or Cinnamon. However, it was very primitive, and customization took effort, effort takes time, and I don't have much time for this stuff (so why am I writing this?).
XFCE also seems pretty solid, and customization is pretty straightforward. Often there is not a menu choice to make the change I want to make, but a little time in RTFM mode and things become straightforward. I'm going to stick with this for awhile.
In a sense being a Windows user is easier: the environment is terrible, Microsoft and other Windows application vendors bleed customers by 1000 cuts, but people put up with it because they don't know any better. Are the user environments any better on the Linux side? Maybe, maybe not. There has long been a strong "make it like windows" ethic among Linux developers, and Ubuntu has decided to make your desktop UI no better than a tablet. But at least there are choices, and XFCE and LXDE are sufficiently different from Gnome 3 and even from Mate that the choices are significant.