I understand the project is young and has a long way to go, but elementary OS feels more like someone's high school project than the innovative, streamlined environment it's being sold as. I would be massively disappointed if I paid any sort of money for the software equivalent of Duplo Blocks they are providing. I tried a pretty recent development release and I came across so many little things that just screamed out "amateur hour". Maybe this was on account of it being a testing release and everything has been fixed and cleaned up in the past two weeks, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt it.
First thing that bugged me was in the Pantheon Greeter was how there were big bold placeholder pictures next to each username, but in order to select one you have to click directly on the text of the name. Right off the bat I'm already frustrated because on my first use I have to make three separate clicks to actually enter a password. There's no reason for it, each username and picture had a whole segment of the screen, for something that's sold as being "simple" how come the first thing I am drawn to click on isn't even an active component? It's a small qualm to have, but again, the focus here is on the UI and I already feel like the coding is simply lazy.
Once I get in to the desktop I see this dorky rip off of the OSX launcher. Now I've used various Unixes for a long time, I don't necessarily expect beauty, a functional Motif app is better than a broken QT program any day of the week, but if you're going to rip something off, especially something as snazzy as the OSX dock, at least get some cool looking icons or something. Otherwise to anyone using it its going to feel like they got the toy version. It's Christmas 1994 all over again and I got the Megazord that doesn't break down in to separate pieces, the cheap one. Most of the elementary OS specific programs felt this way, it always felt like things were missing. Midori for a default browser? Come on! This is an OS that's pretty much designed for people who don't do much with their computers, and the one thing everyone of those people is actually going to want and need, a full featured browser isn't even there by default. I read an explanation that Midori is used being Firefox and Chromium don't use the native toolkit and elementary is all about "fit and finish". And I agree, if what they mean by that is "poor fit and finish". Even trying to bring up a terminal was a pain, it took my eyes quite a bit to see the free floating "Applications" text in the upper left corner. It doesn't even look like a launcher or something you can click on, I don't know what I thought, but it took me a few seconds to figure out, "Oh, I have to click that!".
A lot of the desktop components are written in Vala, which isn't a language I really care for, but it seems to work. One thing it doesn't have is any sort of community around it at all. It looks like they have a chinsy little IDE you can use, and I'm sure most of the other common text editors program have syntax highlighting options for it is well. One thing I will give elementary OS credit for in the Pantheon desktop codebase is super simple, it's very easy to set up the very minimal development environment. It's something a novice hobbyist programmer could set up and actually have a shot at hunting down a bug or adding a feature. I only looked at a few files, but they seemed to be written in a clean style and well commented. The online documentation itself seemed rather poor an incomplete, and the Launchpad development tracker page was decidedly unprofessional. In my quick run through I noticed a lot of commits had cryptic and silly reasons ("fixed crap", "fixed some more crap", etc, stuff like that). Doesn't inspire much confidence for something that is trying to be "paid" software.
The one place I will defend elementary OS is their choice to ask for payment by default. It seems there's a contingent of the Linux community that doesn't understand what "Free Software" actually means and throws a fit anytime someone tries to profit off their hard work while generously sharing the code. In the case of elementary OS it seems that a lot of this money is being reinvested directly in to the project paying bounties for bugs and features. Most of the people whining about this probably have no problem forking over $70 for a DRM encumbered closed source game, but are going to cry being the developers are asking you to consider forking out a few bucks for an operating system that you are free to hack on a redistribute you their hearts content. And they're not even forcing you to pay, they're just making you take the step on entering $0 on your own. Maybe you should read up on what the Free Software Foundation themselves have to say about profiting from GPL'd works: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html