With Ubuntu 9.10, the bootloader had changed and that sparked what seemed to be a wave of negativity throughout the community as apparently GRUB2 is not as intuitive as GRUB was.
That said, Ubuntu 9.10 really is no different otherwise.
This is the default desktop. Ubuntu uses the GNOME environment, and as such has the two bars, or "panels", typical to most GNOME installations.
I am doing this entire review from the live CD.
It seems as though the design is not to use the desktop to access drive icons, but rather to access them from the "Places" menu. There are also links to Network shares and places in your home folder under this menu.
The number of backgrounds available has jumped significantly since I first reviewed Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 9.10 doesn’t have nearly as many theme options as 7.10 had, but is still quite customizable. The default I believe is Human-Clearlooks.
There are also not as many screensavers available as Ubuntu 7.10. Of course for a real diversity users can uninstall GNOME-screensaver and install xscreensaver from the Synaptic Package Manager as I usually do.