Since I've been posting bitches about Unity lately, I wanted to post a positive message.
Gnome 2, Compiz, Desktop Cube and the Compiz Plugins create the most advanced desktop environment I've ever used.
Windows since 3.0
Geos on the Apple II
Mac OS since the original Mac
OS/2 3.0 - 4.0
CDE on AIX and Solaris
1. Easy, practical and flashy management of multiple desktops.
2. Thorough customization of keyboard shortcuts, mouse shortcuts and window behavior (for example, my terminals always come up borderless and 60% transparent).
3. Gnome-panel applets - quick views into CPU, memory, network, disk I/O, temperature, time, weather, etc...
4. Easy management of multiple windows on a single desktop or on all desktops.
5. Quick single mouse-click list of all windows on all desktops.
6. Other goodies
a) the shelf - admittedly, I don't use this too often but it's kinda cool
b) window grouping - I just started using this a few months ago and it's pretty cool - windows back to back
c) eye candy - this IS actually an somewhat important thing when you've been working at your computer for hours - it's nice to have neat eye candy - it make the experience a little "lighter"
7. Nautilus: tabbed windows, etc...
8. Other Linux things that aren't necessarily Gnome/Compiz but haven't been there on other GUI's
b) Run hotkey (Alt-F2)
c) quick and easy network connection switching / IP switching / VPN connections
The above are the reasons I LOVE working in Linux and am constantly frustrated in Windows XP/7 and OSX. I think Linux provides the most advanced desktop environments (especially as above) and the greatest diversity in choices / customization. Yes, I'm using desktop switching in Windows 7 via 3rd party but it's not nearly the same.
I'm a little concerned about this move to finger driven UI's across all devices (as with Windows 8 as well). As always, you try be everything to every device you may be no good on any device. That said, I can't wait for the day that I stand/sit in front of my TV and manipulate the large screen with hand gestures/swipes but does that same interface really need to be on my desktop??