With Linux Mint 8, there were two new community editions: LXDE and XFCE. This is the standard GNOME version, which looks pretty much the same as prior versions and Linux Mint 11.
By the time you are reading this I will probably have previous versions of Mint up here, in fact I have a couple older ones on my list. For these purposes I will be comparing Mint 8 to Mint 11, simply because that is what I have looked at.
The desktop is pretty much the same as Mint 11, but with a darker theme by default.
The menu is also pretty much the same.
Linux Mint 8 uses Nautilus to do the file management like all other GNOME-based distros.
Linux Mint 8 also uses Firefox like most other distros.
The control panel is slightly different from later versions.