I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 11.10 today. I used Metacity+GNOME Panel through the previous version of Ubuntu as Unity crashed annoyingly on my laptop (tending to leave me looking at my background image, which is a cute picture of my son but even so) so this is my first Ubuntu version with the new shiny.
What’s annoying me right now is that they both have features I really like. I’ve only played around for a few hours so possibly one can be configured to have the good features of the other; these are from the default functionality on 11.10.
Unity: my laptop doesn’t have a lot of screen real estate, so I love the integration of the menu bar of windows into the top panel (called global menu). I like having those 20 pixels or so back!
GNOME Shell: I love the Activities mode in general! The presence of workspace previews that don’t require me to keep holding down the Alt part of the Alt-Tab combo is lovely, and the favourites menu on the left seems easier to edit than Unity’s. On the balance, I’d say I prefer GNOME Shell, but damn, global menu is a killer feature on my smaller screen. I’ll watch the global menu patch closely.
(Meanwhile, while writing this entry I discovered that Firefox’s right-click menu is broken in Unity—it disappears as soon as I move my mouse—which is a rather compelling reason to use GNOME Shell.)