What’s the issue?
I’ve seen it mentioned many times on the Ubuntu Forums that KDE is “more Windows-like” than Gnome. To what extent is this true?

Why do people say KDE is Windows-like?
Well, if you press the people who assert KDE’s Windows-likeness, they often offer up as “proof” the single toolbar at the bottom and the blue/silver default theme in Kubuntu.

Both of those reasons fall short of being meaningful. Gnome can just as easily have one toolbar at the bottom, just as KDE can easily have two toolbars—one at the bottom and one at the top. KDE also does not have to use blue or silver. Its colors can be easily changed.

So in what ways is KDE more Windows-like than Gnome?

  • Well, it won’t apply changes until you click Apply. Gnome will apply changes immediately (same as Mac).
  • It has more immediately visible graphical configuration options (which a lot of anti-KDE folk claim are “confusing”) instead of hiding them away as Gnome does in gconf-editor (same as Mac, which hides them in .plist files).
  • The file manager and default web browser are tied together (Konqueror), although this may change for KDE 4.0 (Dolphin file manager?), just as Windows has Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer tied together. Gnome doesn’t necessarily have a default web browser (its native one could be Epiphany or Galeon, but Ubuntu defaults to Firefox) and uses a separate application for file browsing (Nautilus), just as Mac has Finder for file management and Safari for web browsing.

  • Konqueror has a “restore from trash” feature. Nautilus does not… yet.

In what ways is KDE less Windows-like than Gnome?

  • It defaults to annoying bouncing icons when you launch an application from the toolbar (just like Mac’s Dock icons).
  • It allows you to have a universal toolbar, just like Mac’s universal toolbar (one toolbar for any windows within the same application).
  • It defaults to single-click for opening files (Gnome defaults to a double-click, just like Windows).
  • Control-Q always quits programs in KDE (much like Mac’s Cmd-Q), whereas you sometimes quit programs in Gnome with Control-W (closing the window).

How are KDE and Gnome both different from Windows?
KDE and Gnome actually have a lot more in common with each other than either has in common with Windows:

  • Both have multiple workspaces.
  • Both allow you to run the file manager as root easily from within a regular user account.
  • Both have easily installable themes and icon themes (no need to install Windowblinds or Litestep).
  • Both have their application menus grouped by type of application… not just one huge menu with all applications.
  • Both easily allow you to show seconds on the clock.
  • Both have flexible keyboard shortcut assignments.

Conclusions
There may be more you could add to all of those lists, but the point remains: KDE and Gnome are their own things. In some ways, you could say KDE is “more Windows-like” than Gnome; but more importantly KDE is not “more Windows-like” in every respect, and KDE and Gnome have more in common with each other than either has in common with Windows. The most important thing to recognize is that KDE and Gnome are more flexible than the Windows environment is (without weird registry hacks).

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