I think the problem is, as stated before, the defaults. I thought KDE sucked at first with the default installation from the Ubuntu repositories, but I played around with it more and more and took a liking to it. I found more and more useful features, and I configured it to fit my ideal work flow. I don't really like using anything else any more (especially Windows) because everything else feels far too restrictive to me. I've got my KDE desktop configured such that the applications I use regularly start up exactly how I want them: dimensions, position, workspace... hell, I even have my IRC, email, and RSS clients set up to group together into a single window with tabs separating the applications! And I've got the menu-bars and widgets I need exactly where and how I want them.
But that's the "trouble" with KDE. It doesn't give you something amazing right from the start, it gives you the ability to build something amazing for yourself.
I love how badly this strategy is backfiring. A lot of game developers have realized that OpenGL is a better choice than D3D, for the simple fact that if they use OpenGL, their work is easily portable between PS4, iOS, Android, OS X, Linux, and others, while with DirectX they're stuck with Windows and XBox.
I dunno. Although I don't foresee a "mass migration", Windows 8 is certainly drumming up a dangerous amount of interest in alternatives to Windows. It's gotten a LOT easier to talk people into giving user-friendly Linux distros like Ubuntu and Mint a try (and I've found most people tend to adapt to Ubuntu extremely well and end up loving it; hell, I'm a power-user who uses KDE but even I will admit that if you look at Ubuntu Unity from the perspective of being newbie-friendly, it's damn-well designed) and I've seen a lot more people willing to shell out the extra $ for Macs because OS X is a hell of a lot more appealing than Windows 8. I don't see Windows losing its lead in the PC OS market all that soon, but it's definitely faltering.
As tired as the whole "this is the year of Linux on the desktop!" crap has gotten, I will say that it's gotten to the point where you can realistically set up your "average Joe" users with Ubuntu and they'll be happy to have an OS that's easy to use, free, and comes with what they need. (Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice for most people.) As someone who does PC repair, BTW, I've tested out Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and 13.04 on a lot of different machines, and it's _extremely_ rare I run into any notable issues. Usually it'll run perfectly right off the bat, from my experience, and from my own more advanced usage perspective, I've only run into a few major issues, all of which were because I am a gamer and manually install the latest video drivers from AMD, and importantly, they were all fairly easy to fix, which is more than I can say of a large amount of the "Windows won't boot" scenarios I come across.
It just works until your video card dies and you have to pay out the ass for a new one, or go the risky route of flashing the ROM of a PC video card. I used to be a long-time Mac user, but I switched to Linux after I got sick of Apple's overpriced hardware and propensity for screwing over pro users with hardware that can't be upgraded past a certain point. (I had a first-gen Mac Pro, which despite having a 64 bit CPU had 32 bit EFI firmware and the generation of PCIe that was already obsolete when the Mac Pro came out, so I was stuck with crap for video card options and it can't run OS 10.8 or later.)
Now that I've been using Linux for a while, I wish I'd switched a long time ago. Sure, I run into problems a bit more often than I did on Mac, but they're usually an awful lot easier to fix than Mac or Windows issues. (Especially Windows, and I work as a PC repair technician!) I've gotten so accustomed to the features and customization of KDE that even OS X--which I used happily from the time it came out to 10.7--feels too limiting.
There were some kinks in some older versions of KDE 4.x for me on Ubuntu 12.10, such as nepomuk crashing daily and the UI theme reverting to the default sometimes when updating KDE system preferences, but they all got ironed out months ago, and KDE has run pretty much flawlessly for me, even after I upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04.
I love KDE and it's what I use on my own computer, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. I tried setting my roommate up with it and he got lost pretty quickly, so I'm easing him in by starting him off with LXDE and XFCE. It took me a while to get used to KDE, too. First few times I tried it I didn't like it, but once I got used to it and realized the fact that I could essentially build my own desktop environment far closer to my ideal than any other DE (especially Windows and OS X) can achieve, I grew to love it. Nowadays everything else feels uncomfortably limited, and I find myself missing KDE features when using Windows or Mac.
Funny thing, actually, on Win 8 booting faster: it's largely because they quietly turned "Shut Down" into "Hibernate". When you select "Shut Down" in Win 8, you're really hibernating it. The only way to properly shut it down is via the command line. I learned this the hard way as a PC repair tech; I couldn't mount a Windows 8 volume using ntfs-3g, even though I'd "properly" shut it down Win 8. I did some digging and learned the truth, and shut it down via the command line, and was able to mount the drive using ntfs-3g.
The beauty of it, though, is that if you don't like the UI, you can replace it with something better. I use Ubuntu, but don't like Unity, so I tried other UIs out until I developed a favorite. (KDE 4) I still have access to the benefits of Ubuntu, but don't have to put up with Unity's crap.
What I'm responding to is the statement that managing Windows is somehow magically much harder than managing Ubuntu or a Mac.
Well, I grew up using Windows and got pretty savvy with it, but I switched to Macs during the OS 9 days, and have been using OS X mainly ever since, though I still use Windows occasionally and Ubuntu frequently. Even though I grew up with it, I find Windows a great deal more difficult to manage than unix-like OSes. The Windows filesystem is a damn mess, the permissions are even worse, the registry is... the registry, and I've found GNOME, XFCE, and a few other Linux desktop environments a LOT more intuitive than Windows, even though I had no previous experience with them. You would think that I'd find an OS I have many years of experience with easier to manage, but that simply isn't the case with Windows. I've never once managed to get OS X or Linux so FUBAR I had to reformat and reinstall, while I've had it happen at least a few times in Windows, usually in such a way that I have no idea what caused it. (I still have weird, unexplained issues in Windows, like how every once in a while when I boot it up, it won't receive any input from my keyboard.)
Every year or so I wipe the drive with a fresh XP-CD install, and need to reinstall my favorite programs, but that would be true of any OS, whether it's Mac, Lubuntu, or Chrome. Otherwise WinXP just works.
Um, what? I've been using OS X since it was released, and I have never once had to wipe and re-install it. I've installed new versions of it, and moved to new installs on better hardware, but I've never had a situation where I had to back my stuff up and reformat. The only time I've wiped and re-installed Ubuntu was when I was playing with an experimental build of it for a while, and decided to start over with a stable release of it instead.
They offer it for OS X, at least, or did back in beta. It's not a good idea, though, because in order to run 32 bit plugins (like Silverlight) they'd need to create an additional emulation layer like Safari has. The 64 bit version of FF4 is neat, but it not being able to watch Netflix streaming in it is kind of a bummer.
Why are you wary of Chrome? I used Firefox for years (before that I used Camino) and I caved in and tried Chrome a couple of months ago. Before long, I realized I was beginning to like Chrome an awful lot better. The UI is cleaner and more intuitive, the ability to see what resources each individual extension is using is awesome, and it rarely even shows up in the top 5 RAM users on my system. (iTunes! Argh!) I've found equivalent extensions to the ones I used in Firefox (AdBlock, NotScripts, RedditEnhancementSuite, etc.) that work just as well or better, and I don't have to install a fucking 3rd party extension (which the Firefox devs keep breaking; I think the guy who makes the extension may have given up at this point) to use my Keychain Access passwords in it! Also, it hasn't crashed a single time yet. Not once. Firefox would crash at least a couple of times a day, I'd just learned to get used to it.
My only complaints about Chrome are pretty minor. I miss the ability to turn bookmark folders into a bookmark that opens the folder's contents with a simple click (my Logitech Performance MX is a pain to middle click with) and I'm bummed that it's not FOSS, but I can live with proprietary software that's actually good.
And I'm pretty sure Google isn't secretly using Chrome to track people's every move.
Naw. I'm obese, and I drive a Jetta TDI. I fit in it fine, and actually have had worse luck fitting in American cars. This is Germany we're talking about. I got the propensity for obesity from my German grandfather.
If children can handle Roald Dahl's work, they can handle anything Doctor Who throws at them, and I feel sorry for any kid, British, American, or otherwise English-native speaking who didn't grow up on Roald Dahl's work.