a meme i've come across recently is this myth that kde isn't a suitable option for new users. this is complete rubbish and easily shown as such with this simple bit of logic: if it isn't good for new users, please explain all those new users who use and love kde. i come across them all the time. some pick kde on their own, some use it as part of their school or work duties where it was simply handed to them. and they do just fine. better than fine, in many cases, such as can be seen here.
if kde wasn't good for new users, it would be failing there. it isn't, ergo ... well, you can fill in the rest.
there is something we can do better at, however: first impressions. we're like that attractive but perhaps a bit too serious person who would get a lot more social attention if they'd just let their hair down a bit and maybe wear clothes that were in fashion more recently than 5 years ago. this is the most often repeated reason i hear from new users who pick something other than kde for their new linux installation.
fortunately we have substance, and that attracts a lot of people and with a lot more commitment that looks alone can garner. it just takes a bit more effort to get others to appreciate that substance sometimes.
this is why oxygen and the new workspace in kde4 will be so important. it's what people first see and experience and it needs to be "wow". every application can help by keeping their toolbars clean (it's one of the first things people notice when opening an app) and focussing on the great experience our users have come to expect from kde apps.
i look at ksysguard as an example of an app who has taken its looks to a new level; i recently saw a screenshot of vista's analogous app and was astounded by how ugly it was in comparison.
so we can have substance and look pretty doing it; in turn this will help convince more people to spend the time getting to know kde. many if not most people make the decision to do that within the first hour or two of using the desktop.
meanwhile i look at the new kinds of functionality that kde4 is adding and think, "yeah, now that's us shakin' our real money maker, baby." =)