Forget for a moment that Linux is more stable, more secure, and more powerful than Windows. And that it's free.
Which operating system would you pick?
1. "Uh, that's XP. Big freakin' deal, we all know XP looks like it was designed by Fisher Price. You should have used a Vista screenshot for a real comparison."
I know, I know, Vista out-of-box is far prettier than XP out-of-box, but Vista hasn't been around long enough to really be a viable option for an operating system. XP is clearly the wiser choice if you're picking a Microsoft OS right now - in terms of hardware support, software compatibility, and stability. That's why I used an XP screenshot rather than a Vista one; I only wanted to compare the options people actually have.
2. "That's not fair: the Windows screenshot is of XP at first boot, and the Ubuntu screenshot has clearly been beefed up a lot."
True. But here's a bit of perspective for you. To change the XP theme from retarded-blue-luna, you have to either patch system files or purchase $30 software. Most people aren't comfortable with screwing around with system files, and we'll assume that pirating software isn't an option, so that leaves you with having to drop cash on WindowBlinds or StyleXP or something of that sort. Next you'd have to install a separate piece of software that allows you to make windows transparent. All the good ones I've heard of that do that also cost money. And you still can't get it to look like the awesomeness in the Linux screenshot because as far as I know, there's nothing like Beryl/AIGLX for Windows (more info about that below).
To compare, what did it take to get a fresh ubuntu installation to look like that? Open a command prompt and type: "sudo apt-get install beryl emerald-themes conky avant-window-navigator". Wait ten minutes, and you're done. Oh, and the period is outside of the quotation mark there because I was quoting a Linux command, which means it has to be verbatim, grammar nazi.
3. "Holy crap, how'd you get Linux to look like that?"
Ah, good question. Wallpapers from Interfacelift. Installed software that you see - avant-window-navigator (the bar at the bottom), conky (the system monitor), firefox, evince (pdf viewer), gnome-terminal, Google Earth, xchat, Beryl for the desktop effects (including transparency, the desktop hexagon, the skydome, the windows-popping-out, etc.), and emerald (which comes with Beryl) for the theme.
4. "Why'd you shrink down the image?"
Eh, there's an IRC window open there, and I didn't know if those people wanted their names visible in the screenshot. Also, sorry I haven't posted in forever. College and lack of inspiration will do that to you.