Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) will be very different from all previous versions. The moment you start it up you’ll see a difference, the user interface will now be Unity which makes the desktop look very different then it has in previous versions. I very much like the new Unity interface, and I think it will give Ubuntu a much better chance with competing with Windows and the Mac OS X as an operating system. But if you don’t like it you can switch back to the old interface.
Ubuntu 11.04 will also include some new default applications:
– LibreOffice will be the new default office suite, replacing OpenOffice. It was created by some of the main developers of OpenOffice. It is almost identical to OpenOffice but is expected to have better compatibility and performance with Microsoft Office 2007/2010 formats than OpenOffice does.
– Firefox 4 will remain the default browser in Ubuntu for this release anyway.
– Banshee will be the new default music player for Ubuntu 11.04. It probably the closest program to iTunes that is available for Linux. However it is programed in Mono (the open source version of Microsoft .NET infrastructure) which some people hate, but the average user won’t even know or care anyway.
– It was proposed that Thunderbird replace Evolution as the default mail client but the developers have decided against it for 11.04 because Thunderbird needs some work before it would be ready and most of the time will be spent on developing the new user interface. Evolution will remain default for now but Ubuntu is looking for to including Thunderbird in the future.
Also Natty will include Global Menus, a feature which is only really found in the Mac OSX. Basically it put the menus normally found on the top of a window into the top panel instead. If you are unsure of what a global menu is check here, the image should provide you with the idea of Global menus.
All these changes make Ubuntu 11.04 a Linux distro to look forward. Although many of these changes are very controversial, I think Ubuntu 11.04 will prove to be a successful release (and maybe even because of these changes).