What with all the news about the release of the first KDE 4.0 release candidate, I realized I've been using KDE 3.5 for quite some number of months now. This is quite a feat given how often I used to bounce between window managers in the past. I believe I first used KDE when it was 2.something; I'm pretty sure it was the first window manager I ever used when I started playing with Linux. Since then I've given substantial time to Gnome (obviously), XFCE4, FVWM2, Openbox, and Fluxbox. Last time I stuck with one WM this long was probably back with FVWM2.
I really can't complain about KDE nowadays. KDE has just about everything you could want in terms of options. Kwin as a window manager is suprisingly powerful; I'd say possibly second only to FVWM for my needs in terms of configurability, per-application settings and whatnot. Metacity is total trash in that regard.
There's a funny quote on Wikipedia from the author of Metacity:
Metacity's focus is on simplicity and usability rather than novelties or gimmicks. Its author has characterized it as a "Boring window manager for the adult in you. Many window managers are like Marshmallow Froot Loops; Metacity is like Cheerios."
That rings true. So KDE has that going for it. Also in spite of all the claims of bloat, KDE feels very responsive and snappy to me. QT-based apps always seem more responsive than GTK apps even when I was a heavy Gnome user. Whether they actually are more responsive, or just seem to be, doesn't matter to me; my perception is all that matters in this case. Many of the apps that come with KDE are really high-quality too. Amarok obviously, but also ktorrent which has been my bittorrent client for a while now. And both Konq and Dolphin are top-notch file managers. Then there's K3B and so on.
In spite of all the KDE4 news, I'm not really sure what it brings to the table that's much different than KDE3. I know there are some new gui toolkits etc. that will make it look prettier. At least I hope that's true. Most of the KDE themes in the world right now are pretty darned ugly compared to Gnome themes, in my estimation; that's the one thing Gnome has going for it. I like muted, minimalistic themes. KDE is always big and round and flashy. I hope someone with some good artistic sense can take advantage of KDE4. The screenshots I've seen of the default theme look horrendous, but then again this is just a release candidate, and most default themes for most window managers / desktop environments do, I guess.
I'm really waiting to see what KDE4 is going to offer in terms of usability, which is KDE's big strength to me. The worst thing that can happen is if KDE takes a step BACKWARDS in usability, to try to move forwards in eye-candy. KDE 3.5 is so wonderfully mature and feature-rich at this point, I'd be amazed if KDE4 can match it right away, unless they were able to reuse a lot of KDE 3.5 components in KDE 4.
Time will tell. In the meantime I'm very happy with KDE right now.