I installed KDE 4.2 over the weekend to see if I was missing anything there.
It's like daylight after being in a cave for two months. I didn't realize how hard it has been to use a butt-ugly environment until I wasn't anymore. (Yes, I tried all the gnome themes I could find. Even Nimbus which took a bit of work. What's that recently-famous phrase? "Lipstick on a pig?")
What is better in KDE? In a word, everything. And put me in the camp that really likes having the desktop turned into a usable area for the first time. Like apple's dashboard, except it doesn't suck. I always hated dashboard.
Things that could be improved:
- Never in a thousand years would I have thought to look under "Regional & Language" for the preference to turn caps lock into control. I had to google this.
- I'm still not sure how to set F9 to Present Windows. Or how to bind a keystroke to the K menu as a poor man's quicksilver.
- More generally, a "Welcome to kde. Let me teach you how to be a power user" tutorial would be nice. I have the feeling there is lots of awesome under the hood if I knew where it was. I never got that feeling from gnome. ("Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone.")
- Firefox UI widgets are imperfectly themed from XUL to GTK to KDE. But it is useable. (And having my second monitor redraw correctly instead of leaving artifacts when windows are moved makes up for that.) Is this KDE's fault? Firefox's? I don't know.
- Konqueror is still using KHTML instead of webkit which means it is mostly unusable in the world of "web 2.0." Yes, you can install webkitkde but that is Very Alpha. ("Open in new window" doesn't work, for instance. "Open in new tab" is gone entirely.)
- I couldn't find an option to just use icons in the task manager widget.