After some feedback from users who are migrating from Windows to Linux, I realize XFCE probably isn’t the best choice for most of them. So after a little chatter here with someone about my various desktop concerns, I think I’ll be recommending most folks use KDE. To be honest, it’s about as close as you’ll get, demanding the fewest adaptations for the user.
I do think it’s best to change the defaults. For example, one of the biggest headaches from anyone who isn’t a fan boy is the Panel. It really needs taming, so I recommend this Plasma theme which should restore some sanity. It requires you understand how to unzip it and move the folder into your home file system:
That way you can choose it as your “Workspace Theme” and maybe get some work done. And since most folks like having icons on the desktop, I recommend you right click on the wallpaper and select “Desktop Settings” and change the Layout to “Folder view”. Otherwise your icons will be stuck in some little window on the desktop and it tends to hide itself from time to time.
The primary problem with KDE is there are way too many settings exposed to users who lack the experience. KMail, for example, is not at all self-explanatory and it does require some experience and expertise. However, it is by far one of the best email clients, bar none. Another nifty trick is that the file manager (Dolphin) can connect to your Windows boxes on the same network. Just click on the network links and work your way down to the machine in question and be ready to log in.
So if you are migrating from Windows to Linux in keeping with my information activist urging, I recommend you pick Debian with the KDE desktop, Kubuntu, or one of the others that appeals to you. If you choose Debian I’ll be glad to help you, and you can ask all the questions you need. For Debian go here and select debian-7.4.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso.