I use XP, Win. 7 and various Linux distros. First of all, the folders and application icons I have on my desktop don't look much different on any of the those systems - e.g., to the extent that the icon for LibreOffice is different than the icon for MS Office is about it. If I wanted to copy the MS Office icon into the Linux icon directory, I could and use it for LibreOffice. However, the point is an icon on the desktop is an icon. I could easily adapt every icon on my Linux desktop to look like the comparable icon on my XP or Win, 7 desktop, In that sense, it would look like Windows. On some of the current distros (and Ubuntu-based distros prior to 11.04), I can set up panels (bottom AND top). I can populate a bottom panel much the same way as the Windows taskbar.
Granted, I am not going to get an exact match all the time but I can make it look close. I will agree that the underlaying Linux function may not always support the same options as the comparable Windows function, but as a whole, it will accomplish most, if not all that the non-techie types typically use.
BTW, if I use WINE, I can populate my desktop with the Window applications that install under WINE and then it functions exactly as Windows.
I'd also suggest you take a look at ZorinOS and find out that you can have a desktop that has the look and feel of Linux Gnome 2, Windows XP or Windows 7. You can select from the "Start" menu which desktop you prefer. Logoff and log back on. Granted, you will still have Linux beneath the surface (except for any Window apps installed under WINE).
Besides WINE, I also use DOSBox and DOS Emulator to handle any old DOS programs I still use. I also use DOSBox on Windows 7 to handle stuff that ran on XP command line and earlier but won't run on Windows 7.
So before you knock it, give it a try (ZorinOS in a VirtualBox VM). You may be pleasantly surprised.
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