Don't think I've tried unity yet, but if it's anything like windows 8 I don't want to.
Then you most certainly don't want to mess with Unity, by that I'm not saying it's worse or better, it's just a whole different approach to using a computer. Generally speaking, the Unity interface would be more attractive to the younger computer users, especially those who has never known for years a traditional 'as we know it' Start Menu. Whether or not it's Linux or Windows doesn't matter, both Unity & Modern UI were largely unwelcomed by the computing community by a overwhelming majority, though to play it fair, there were a small percentage that prefers the newer interfaces. I respect the decision of choice for everyone, that's what Linux is about.
While I don't want to see my OP become a total obsession over Start menus, the fact is, Ubuntu MATE does bring back classic, proven technology & feature set, as well as the one that introduced & embraced many users to Linux. The majority of Linux OS's does not use Unity, rather a simple Start Menu that's easy to navigate for many users. As such, there's zero reason to be running outdated, unsupported & potentially dangerous OS's such as XP, when there are modern OS's that has a like function set, with just a slight learning curve to get acquainted, along with the desire to do so. XP users in particular will soon see, that the computing world will leave them behind, and it won't be long before it happens. Google promised only one year of support, and April 8 is less than three weeks away from this post. Once browser upgrades ends for the OS, that's the end of the 14 year road. Sites where transactions are made can deny access to non-current browsers and/or OS's, and they know what OS one is using. If this scenario fits any reader of this, Ubuntu MATE can be the answer. Some users may have a capable computer as is to run it. Especially later model XP computers, or those from Vista downgrades.
Trust me on this one, if I can learn & use Linux as my main OS, anyone can. While there's been many that's called me a 'genius', among other power terms regarding PC's, the fact is, I'm just an ordinary user of computers. Just because I can install an OS, printer (though am still seeking a solution in a Topic of my own regarding this), router & network setup, hardware swaps such as SSD/HDD/RAM upgrades, performing the maintenance we're supposed to be doing (backup & security), among all of the other 'little' things I can do, does not make me a genius. Though I'd like to have the ability to, I don't possess the ability to answer everyone's Topics, and every time I get a PM for assistance, they're pointed to the Forum. Backroom Topic solving defeats the purpose of having a forum to discuss issues, and I want everyone to have the same opportunity as I've used for years, searching for an answer & landing on the Topic page.
Most of the things I know, is because I save manuals & other documentation (it can be said with great accuracy that I'm a certified packrat), and search for answers anywhere & everywhere I can. Many of the things I've done for myself & others, were learned on the run, and at least a third of those came from this site (higher percentage rate if it was security issues alone).
It was the same with Linux, by chance my first one was Ubuntu, it was the most popular Linux distro on the planet in 2009 & closely resembled the MATE version. My only mistake was first in using the Wubi installer to try it out, then using an app that I recommend to no one called 'Computer Janitor'. I found it rather odd that Linux was installed as a Windows program, yet could no longer boot into XP because I ran that ultra powerful cleaning app. If I possessed the experience that I now have, would have used a bootable partition tool to restore the bootloader. At the time, didn't know how to perform this task, though over the years, I did learn how to perform it & have used it numerous times to delete a Linux install w/out losing the OS that the computer shipped with.
What the experience at the time did however, kind of made me lose interest in Ubuntu, and for a few months bounced from distro to distro until I found Linux Mint, and that wasn't in the open, rather a message passed onto me though an email contact from a moderator of a prominent Linux forum. Because I was dual booting with XP, many were against me from Day One, and I took a lot of abuse that I shouldn't have. Was on my last (unjustified) warning there, and the kind moderator asked for my email address, with a note that the PM would be deleted in 24 hours. I responded, the message was deleted, she turned me onto Linux Mint & the rest is history. We remain friends to this day, though to prevent backlash, will never betray her trust in me.
Yet had I received the assistance I was looking for initially with Ubuntu, would have likely at least ran it for another year, until Unity was released, before moving on & likely would have learned about Mint through the natural process, word of mouth.
The great thing is, Ubuntu users now has at least two choices of desktops, MATE & Unity, and I know there is at least one more in Studio, however have never tried the distro, so cannot comment as to it's function, only that it's another choice. There are also spinoffs of Ubuntu. the various 'buntu' OS's, though am not sure who distributes these, plus the many other OS built on Ubuntu, and Mint is one of the these, along with at least one other popular one in Zorin OS.
However, old school diehard users of Ubuntu prior to mid 2010 has all of the reason to return, if unsatisfied with that they're running, or simply wish to return. Ubuntu MATE is alive and looks to be here to stay. Linux users who likes to game will be happy to know that Ubuntu MATE is fully compatible with Steam for Linux.
There is a middle aged computer that I'm still working on restoring, and being that Mint KDE isn't turning out to be my cup of tea, am proud to announce that Ubuntu MATE 14.04 will be the next OS to be installed onto the PC. There are already enough Linux Mint MATE installs scattered around, so will give the Ubuntu version a shot this time around.
Ubuntu MATE looks to be a potentially great OS in the making, one that will not only bring back some who were ticked off in 2010, but others from non-Linux backgrounds as well. Finally, there's no shortage of Ubuntu support, another plus for the OS. There's no reason not to give the OS a shot.